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High Table Temi Wikey at the Bush Theatre

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High Table Temi Wikey at the Bush Theatre til 21st march

by Sue Sanders

This is a truly exciting, inspiring, funny and painful play. Set in London, Nigeria and the North star, on the edge of the present. We watch the journey of two young lesbians on the rocky wedding road and witness their parents and ancestors angst. This is Temi’s first play and given her adroit talent with dialogue and story it will not be her last. Being introduced to the bickering ancestors of the family summoned to bless the wedding was a delightful touch and enabled a clever and entertaining way to explore various attitudes to homosexuality. The staging is effective and at the Bush you do feel very much part of the action. The use of lighting and amazing live drumming from Mohamed Gueye proved an effective way to move us from place to place with ease.

The exploration of homophobia in families is not new and I have over the years experienced many plays, films and novels doing so. What is new here is the Nigerian voice and culture. Temi exposes with such clarity the appalling homophobic legacy of colonialism. ‘when the white man came with his missionaries and puritanical nonsense, it scattered our people, They polluted our ways. They stopped us from being who we were. Who we are, from loving who we love. They tried to swamp out our ways, our rituals, our beliefs. They scraped our culture with their dirty nails and it’s still bleeding today.’

The audience, the night I was in, was predominantly young and Black and clearly got very involved and gave a standing ovation at the end.

Due I suspect to the powerful acting as much as the writing. I was particularly taken with Jumoke Fashola who plays both the homophobic mother and the Ancestor of the North, her vibrancy and subtleness in both roles enabled us to identify with the emotions of the very different characters. Chererelle Skeete and Ibainabo Jack as the lesbian brides Tara and Leah deftly portrayed both the deep love of a new couple and the tensions stirred by the demands of organising a wedding.

David Webber as ancestor of the West and  the father of Tara  finds he has to change his attitude in both roles, he brings  both a lightness of touch and perfect timing to a complex range of emotions. Stefan Adegbola as Tara’s uncle who was made invisible to Tara due to his sexual orientation delivers a powerful monologue  of his experience of police homophobic oppression that gay men all over the world will recognise but does so in such a way that makes it uniquely his own.

This is play to see so check your diaries and pop over to the Bush