By Prisca Sam-Duru
The Agip recital Hall of the Muson centre Lagos, weekend was full to the brim with an enthusiastic crowd who defied the heavy downpour to feel the thrill of stage action as young actors and actresses from the Atlantic Hall Drama Club, performed Agho Obaseki, a play written by Don Pedro Obaseki. The play was produced by the Atlantic Hall Drama Club, and directed by veteran stage director, Gboyega Gbiletan Jerome.
It was indeed a celebration of culture of the ancient Benin Kingdom with most scenes beginning or ending with popular Benin songs. The theme music, musical interludes, coronation and closing musical presentations were all rendered in Benin dialect.
Transfer of power
It was amazing how the actors numbering about 101 were able to flow freely with a language that many of them were speaking for the first time.
The play was spiced with African proverbs where necessary. And of interest is the manner in which the new king’s wives come out for their husbands coronation with palms, covering their noses.
Agho Obaseki narrates the events that take place in 1897 with the fall of Benin Kingdom to the British and Oba Ovonramwen N’ogbaisi exiled to Calabar, which led to the transfer of power to Obaseki “the ambition man” of the Kingdom who is married to Nógbaisi’s daughter Orinwianme, played by Adannia.
On seizing power, Obaseki exercised authority with absolute corruption and without any regards for his people and the Edo traditional practices. It was not after the death of the Oba in exile and the coronation of Aiguobasimwin (played by Eregie Nosaru) after 17 years of conflicts and intrigues, that peace and freedom returned again.
The choice of Oba Ovonramwen N’ogbaisi’s son, Aiguobasimwin as the new king by the British, in place of their puppet, Obaseki (Okotete Kevwe) comes as hard blow on Obaseki who sees the development as the height of betrayal.
In sharp contrast, the turn of event in this particular scenario is rather seen by the people as a fact of truth has a way of prevailing, despite how long it takes lies to tarry.
Despite its tragic essence, the play succeeds in every theatrical sense in keeping the audience spellbound as no viewer could hide how enthused he was due to the enthusiasm and passion with which the students interpreted their roles and scenes.