The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives at Arcola Theatre
Adapted from Lola Shoneyin’s acclaimed novel and written for theatre by Caine Award-winning playwright Rotimi Babatunde, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr, presents a fascinating, enlightening and witty portrayal of sexual politics in an African home. Written from a woman’s point of view, the play offers a satirical perspective on life in a polygamous Nigerian environment.
Babi Segi (Patrice Naiambana) is an overweight, overindulged patriarch and husband to four wives: Iya Segi (Jumoke Fashola), Iya Tope (Christina Oshunniyi), Iya Femi (Layo-Christina Akinlude) and Bolanle (Marcy Dolapo Oni), the first three of whom have given him seven children. Iya Segi and Iya Femi are bossy and arrogant and bully the more timid Iya Tope. The introduction of college graduate Bolanie into the group creates conflict and chaos, and her discovery of a scandalous secret threatens the destruction Babi Segi’s bigamous world.
Looking at the complex love/hate essence of female relationships within the sphere of the unusual nature of polygamy and a scarcity of choices for women, the play probes gender issues in the light of extreme patriarchy. Frankly examining subjects such as sex, masturbation, homosexuality and rape – while employing artful humour – the piece brilliantly illuminates struggles and tensions amid smouldering gender politics.
With remarkable direction by Elufowoju Jr, the performances are excellent. Babatunde’s dramatic adaptation is masterful. Imbued with a quality of improvisation, the work is stunningly fluid, maintaining seamless continuity via the use of lighting during scene and dress changes. The minimalist set and realistic costumes, captivating music with original Yoruba songs and beautifully choreographed movement – including guitars, flutes and drums and sexually charged dance – combine to create superbly evocative atmosphere and effect.
An intriguing exposé of Nigerian literature and theatre, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is an exceptionally entertaining, funny, compelling and thought-provoking piece.
Photo: Idil Sukan
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is at Arcola Theatre from 7th June until 21st July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives here: