A scene fromthe play
A spin off from the biblical tale of ten virgins, the Five Maidens of Fadaka graces a Lagos stage recently. Adewole Ajao reports
There is no shortage of cultural energy in Ayodele Jaiyesinmi’s Five Maidens of Fadaka. An hour into the play and there seems to be a song and dance for every scene. This atmosphere attracts whistles and applause from culture vultures within the packed Agip Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre. The coup of having several ethnic groups on display for the July 22 play seems to resonate with the audience and you have to admire a stage facade that has failed to click in real life. With most geo-political zones suspicious of one another, the play whets the appetite for a harmonious existence between Nigerians something the former newspaper columnist gave priority when putting the script together.
A carnival-like opening in the morality tale unearths familiar faces. There is Norbert Young, Bimbo Manuel, Rachel Oniga, Carol King, Gloria Young, Iyke Okechukwu and others re-enacting the moonlight ritual of a rustic setting, and kids being wowed by a fable of the tortoise and crab. Its lesson does little to tame the exuberance of some within the boisterous multitude. This much is laid bare when some linger with bedtime beckoning. Sambo (Iyke Okechukwu) is the butt of female jokes -a sub plot that gives way to greater sauciness from other maidens in the community.
There is Tolu (Odetunde Mofoluwaso) who is in competition with Nonye (Chee Sandra Mba) when it comes to being uncouth. Unfortunately, the rude duo is as thick as thieves with a friendship built on gossip, vanity and breaking the rules. Their sharp tongues spare no one, not even their parents who are usually distracted by their nefarious antics. “The king will soon gather all the people from the communities to the great city,” discloses Tolu to her mother (Carol King) to escape a beating.
An adaptation of the Ten Virgins tale in the Bible, you are already fingering the likely candidates that will run out of steam before the play ends. With the king summoning ten maidens on the road to choosing a wife, the women draw up wish lists. They are not alone in daydreaming. Teenage boys like Chika (Dede Kelvin Alozie), Sambo (Iyke Okechukwu) and Olusola (Adeniyi Babatunde) revel in the dawn of an eagerly-anticipated utopia.
“There’s no fighting each other....no dying, no working,” they chorus after another round of choreography from some members of the Ijodee Dance Troupe.
Grown men like Papa Ruki (Bimbo Manuel) and Papa Tafi (Norbert Young) are also guilty of woolgathering. Their addictions to palm-wine and the traditional Ayo game stir feuds among their wives (Inna Erizia and Kate Okunu), who argue on the most indolent of the pair.
The preponderance of bad habits among some of the maidens becomes understandable once the flaws of their parents come to light. Nonye always has a mirror close by to admire herself during chores at the stream. Tucked neatly in her blouse, it is usually accompanied by a flurry of unnecessary praise from her dotting mother (Gloria Young) who encourages her daughter’s delusions.
“I’ll not continue to come to the stream with you girls. Me that I look like gazelle! If I turn to an old woman before my time, who will marry me?” remarks the maiden with her usual arrogance.
Such outer beauty is futile with a monarch who has his eye on inner values. After summoning ten maidens to the city so he can choose a wife, the saucy collective within the mass find it hard to keep up on the way to clinching the ultimate prize. Amidst all the fanfare, sonorous tunes and plethora of indigenous dances, an embodiment of exemplary traits as adequate preparation for the coming of Christ are re-echoed several times within the play which lasts for a little over two hours.
“All that is needed is humility, accountability, honesty ...and purity. If people don’t make it to the great city, there’ll be much crying,” reveals a character.
Written by Ayodele Jaiyesinmi and directed by Abiola Segun Williams, Five Maids of Fadaka is a lesson in the efficacy of values over beauty. In a dark and hostile world, sound character illuminates the miasma synonymous with existence. Another in a list of plays by the Thespian Family Theatre that includes Mad King of Ijudyah and Siddon De Look, the play’s 19th performance continues home-grown themes that attracted First Bank’s First@Art initiative to partner. With a hat trick of sponsorship for prominent shows, the bank is hoping to ensure a much-needed spike to indigenous arty activity with a leg up for numerous events