The Gods Are Not to Blame, London 2015 – review
The Lost Theatre

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2015 6:12 AM | Review by: Adeola Idowu |
2015 London Production of The Gods Are Not To Blame by Ola Rotimi, Lost Theatre 2015 London Production of The Gods Are Not To Blame by Ola Rotimi, Lost Theatre

This production of the Gods are Not To Blame illustrated a thought-provoking and powerful story unfolded by a delightful and talented cast.


The Gods Are Not To Blame by Ola Rotimi is a classic tale inspired by the ancient Greek myth, Oedipus Rex, successfully adapted for African theatre. This is a fine piece of literature that has fascinated the minds of students, teachers, literary scholars and theatrical critics for over 50 years.


The story depicts the fate of an interesting character called Odewale, who from birth is shadowed by a terrible prophecy from an oracle who declares; “He will kill is own father and marry his mother”. The prophecy seems to be dispelled as we are led to believe that he was killed as a baby, but after a series of events, clever twists and turns we find that the foretelling from the oracle is indeed fulfilled. The play is set in the early traditional Yoruba lands of Kuteje, Ijekun Yemoja, Ijesha and Ede.


This adaptation by producer Ayo Jaiyesimi and director Lookman Sanusi, makes strong attempts to do Ola Rotimi’s play justice. This is through the use of very good actors such as Tolu Yesufu (Queen Ojuola), Frank Williams (Baba Fakunle), Moji Bamfeta (Iya Aburo), Matthew Bassey (King Adetusa), Dejumo Lewis (Narrator) Felix Ologbosere (Aderopo) and numerous others who portray the most delightful and dynamic characters. This production grasps the Yoruba culture very well through the use of the traditional elements such as beautiful African prints and costumes, the notable ‘talking drum’ and the seamless choreography in places. Each of these touches makes watching the play a charming and enchanting experience.


You cannot help but fall in love with the use African proverbs in this play; true to Ola Rotimi’s original literature. “Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth must chew with caution” and “a chicken eats corn, drinks water, swallows pebbles, yet complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth would she eat gold? Let her ask the cow that has teeth yet eats grass…” are amongst the old Yoruba adages that emerge within the play’s dialogue. These elements are all expected within an African – Yoruba play such as this, however the inclusion of these in this particular play was just right, very natural, never over exaggerated and certainly not forced. It was great to see the infusion of all these cultural elements within the production.


Be that as it may, if you had no prior knowledge about Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame, one could feel lost at times whilst watching this particular production. There were a few technical errors that might have let the production down. For instance, a number of key parts of the play were highlighted with the use of footage from a large projector screen. At times the screen was used to show the narrator, memory flashbacks from characters, general scenery backdrop and host of other key segments to help narrate the story. There was a crucial section of the play where a flashback should have revealed a pinnacle part of the story, but sadly the audio to accompany the footage was missing. Additionally the screen itself was not always very clear and in sincere honesty, the audience could have been left wondering whether the footage may have been filmed over a decade ago, as it wasn’t the best use of cinematography.


Thankfully the audience were forgiving, as it seemed the majority of us were already familiar with the story and infatuated with the talented cast.


This production of the Gods are Not To Blame illustrated a thought-provoking and powerful story unfolded by a delightful and talented cast.



Info: The Gods Are Not to Blame is at the Lost Theatre until April 30, 2015 | Book tickets | Watch trailer




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