|FROM L-R: the Chairman, C for Education(down), C for cooperative, Doctor and Baba Fawomi|
A commercial theatre is a business outlet. For just as a person buys a product from a market, so also a theatergoer goes into a commercial theatre expecting to get the worth for the ticket. This can be said to be the situation with the recent performance at the Uniport Arts Theatre (CRAB) of the play Who’s Afraid of Solarin? Written by the prolific playwright, Femi Osofisan, which enthralled the audience and has given new stage names to some of the cast who participated in the production.
The play,Who’s Afraid of Solarin? Was first published in 1978, it is an adaptation of Nikola Gogol’s The Government Inspector (1836) It is a satire on graft and corruption prevalent in the Nigerian society and is structured into five parts. The story is built around Tai Solarin, the one- time Public Complaints Commissioner (PCC ) for the old Western Region of Nigeria comprising of Oyo, Ondo, and Ogun States. The much talked about Public Complaints Commission in the play was established by the Obasanjo- Muhammed regime as a way of clearing the society of corruption. Dr. Tai Solarin’s dedication, diligence and incorruptible disposition fetch him the appointment by government to head this commission and Osofisan wrote this play in his honour.
|L_R: the Chairman, C for cooporation, Baba Fawomi (down) Doctor,( kneeling) C for Education, Price control, Lawyer|
|Chairman, C for Cooperative, Baba Fawomi, C for Education, Doctor, Price control|
The meeting, which turns out to be an avenue where all their corrupt and fraudulent practices are expose as they all involve in confessional statements at every provocation. For instance;
COUNCILOR FOR COOPERATIVE: that’s not the point of our complaint, you eunuch. After all your appointment as a director of the Breweries came to you first on the radio. You didn’t reject it.
COUNCILOR FOR EDUCATION: Don’t be silly; is it the same thing? Why are you women always confusing issue? Or you know how much I paid for that appointment? ….
COUNCILOR FOR COOPERATIVES: And what of you! is it the burden of plunder from the UPE buildings project that keeps you stunted?
COUNCILOR FOR EDUCATION: all because I refused to let you encroach on the school lands for your poultry scheme….
However, they decide to involve the service of Baba Fawomi, an Ifa Priest. Who according to the Yoruba belief, is an eye of the gods to the people, instead, he turns out to be an epitome of greed and dishonesty. Having known their problem, he decides to exploit the situation for self-aggrandizement. In order to help them they must pay through their noses. He therefore demands five cows each to carry out the sacrifice. In addition, they must provide ten goats, of the home-grown type all black and fat. He also ask them to provide sixteen fowls strong limbed, home raised chickens and not the foreign ones from the government farm which do not allow one to exercise teeth and seven bales of white cloth by each one of them. All these provisions are for first part of the ceremony. Ifa Priest is also a strong drinker; according to him, “Ifa does not speak on a dry throat.” It his usual act of demanding for drink as a start before he can perform any divination that got him into trouble with Polycarp who provides toilet soap to him in place of a gin.
Osofisan also satirize religious hypocrisy in the society. Pastor Nebuchadnezzar is overcome by the fear of Solarin because he has embezzled the church’s money. He also involved the service of Baba Fawomi who comes in his usual manner to ransack and loot the Pastor’s home instead of providing help to his self-inflected trouble.
Ishola Oriebora, a Lagos rogue who ran away from his landlord on account of his debts, escapes from being arrested and finds a succor in the Pastor’s house. All of a sudden, his is mistaken for the dreaded Public Complaints Commissioner, Solarin by the Local Government Council. Being an irresponsible and mischievous fellow, he plays on this mistaken identity, milking fortunes from the Chairman, the council members and even the Pastor and his daughter whom he promises marriage. This he sustains until the last when the news of when the arrival of the real Public Complaints Commissioner, Solarin and everything is revealed in a hilarious manner.
The casting for the production was good but the best part of the casting was the role of “Chief Funso Fowolu” alias “Force is Force” (Councilor for Education) which was played by a lady, Igechi Elechi-Amadi. The daughter of the famous literary icon, Chief Capt. Elechi Amadi. She was able to maintain the nuisances that his typical of an average Yoruba man. The costume was more of contemporary Yoruba costumes with some mixture of corporate wears and professional costumes like that of the pastor, the doctor, lawyer and the imposter, Isola.
CAST and CREW
DIRECTOR - SUNNY GIFT
DOP - SNAZEY BRYMZ
CHIEF JAMES GBONMIAIYELOBIOJO - JOSEPH YOMI ORRU Chairman Of The Local Government
TOLU: Chairman’s Wife - LYDIA SOBEREKON
CHIEF FUNSO FOWOLU - IGECHI ELECHI-AMADI Councilor For Education
PASTOR NEBUCHADNEZZAR - EDAFE OHWOFASA
CECILIA - BLESSING NWACHUKWU Pastor’s Daughter
CHIEF MAGISTRATE - ADOLPHUS FESTUS Ayokanmi Olaitan
BABA FAWOMI - CHARLES IFECO Ifa Priest
MISSKAOKUDIANIMASAUN - ESEVETA OSHEVIRE Councillor For Cooperative
DR. BODUNRIN ALADE-MARTIN - BLESSING KARIBO Chief Medical Officer
MRS ABENI MAILO DANIELLA BARINAALE OMOR Price Control Officer
ISOLA ORIEBORA - OTOBONG IME –UDOFIA A Traveller From Lagos