While a number of stage plays have gone down at the Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos in 2012, there’s yet another jaw-dropping one this mid-year: Titled Midnight Blackout, the play is directed by Kenneth Uphopho, an actor. Midnight Blackout is about a household entangled with the intricacies of a marriage and struggling with matters of trust and deceit.
There is a secret, scientific discovery made by Professor Juokwu who is a respected Professor of medicine and member of several committees in a Nigerian university but the reason for naming his discovery “The Midnight Blackout” provides an interesting plane for the evolution of the story.
The play begins with two young people coming on stage: Chinwe (Nneka Umeigbo), the maid of Professor Juokwu (Patrick Diabuah) and Okoro (Emmanuel Nlemadim), the professor’s student as they quickly disappear to ensure the professor does not meet them loafing around. Soon, the professor comes in with his wife, Obioma (Awelw Onuorah Akpo) overtaken by an issue leading to a heated argument with his wife. And with the wife soon coming up with an allegation that the professor is engaged in extra marital affairs owing to how frightened he is when she comes in, hiding the letter he has just received from her, to which the professor shoots back that it’s due to her sudden entrance.
On a spur of the moment, the discussion shifts to a picture on the wall in which there is the woman’s late husband as the wife begins to lavish invectives on the dead man as if he were standing right there with them, until she gets cautioned by the professor.
Prof. Juokwu begins to fret when he learns a letter meant for him has found its way into the hands of his wife, but once he notices that the letter is not one containing “harmful information”, he hands it over to his wife to read. It turns out the letter is from a debtor of his as he is overcome by a relief that indicates he has a lot to hide.
Iberibe (Adegbenga Adekanmbi), the country’s ambassador to Rio, comes in pretending to be sorry that Johnson, Obioma’s former husband is dead and thinking he would be able marry Obioma. All that changes when he meets Prof Juokwu whom he knows as an old friend. The Prof. soon offers him the chance of squatting with them, but when the man from Rio declines the offer of hospitality, he insists and begins to make arrangements for him to stay around. Unknown to the Prof, when Iberibe eventually tells him about the “violent disappointment” that has befallen him having been told by Obioma to leave, the professor still promises to help him get round it without knowing that his wife is the woman in question.
The play presents more than pockets of scenes that would draw laughter. One of such exists in the scene where Akubundu comes into the house to challenge Professor Juokwu, having been on his trail since he saw him rushing out of the bedroom where he was busy with Akubundu’s wife. The man’s directive to Prof. Juokwu: “Ask your mummy to go out,” when in actual fact Obioma is the one lying on the chair, sends the audience into fits of laughter. The same is recorded again when Akubundun again tells Juokwu: “Ask your uncle to go out”.
Set in the tradition of the hilarious Midnight Hotel, written by Femi Osofisan, Midnight Blackout features artistes like Patrick Diabuah, Awele Onuorah Akpo, Gbenga Adekanmbi, Emmanuel Nlemadim and Nneka Umeigbo. Having been on every Sunday in June at Terra Kulture, the last performance comes up tomorrow.