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Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, at Arcola Theatre

Superb musical accompaniment and a dynamic cast in play set in contemporary Nigeria that deals with polygamy, domestic abuse and rape

22 June, 2018 — By Angela Cobbinah

Jumoké Fashola and Tania Nwachukwu in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. Photo: Idil Sukan

CASSAVA farmer Baba Segi has four wives, seven children and plenty of money in the bank but is oblivious to the frantic scheming going on behind his back among the “fellow inmates”, as the women call themselves.

Set in contemporary Nigeria and based on Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling novel, the play deals with the weighty issues of polygamy, domestic abuse and rape through riotous comedy as the loud-mouthed patriarch eventually gets his ­­come­uppence.

Although the production meanders somewhat in Rotimi Babatunde’s adaptation, superb Yoruba musical accompaniment and a dynamic cast power things along nicely, while Shola Ajayi’s costumes bring satisfying splashes of colour to the stripped-down stage.

Patrice Naiambana gives a stand-out performance as the foolish though endearing Baba Segi, while Jumoké Fashola as senior wife and plotter-in-chief is equally impressive.

More than once she says: “Men are like yam, you cut them how you like”, and that is exactly how she operates, even when it is against her own interests.

The sexual politics on display gets down to sex itself, and there is plenty of it, both in word and deed – cue more laughter.

There is tragedy, too, but this tends to jar in a plot that often resembles a Nollywood soap.

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