Saro the Musical, Shaw Theatre
The vibrancy of the clothes, colours, songs and dancing lifts the audience and helps to focus on the essence of the production
I remember my first trip to Lagos thinking this place is like the New York of Africa. I know big statement as though I have seen a lot of Africa I haven’t seen it all but it was just the bustle, hustle and crazy paced speed of it all. Saro is very much like the famous Frank Sinatra ode to New York where in this case Bolanle Austen – Peters founder of BAP Productions has created an ode to the wonders and chaos that is Lagos.
The story takes us on a journey with four enthusiastic talented singers from the village who plan to find fame and fortune in Lagos, the big city. As they arrive in Lagos with not much more than a hope and a dream we watch them get schooled in city life with its abrupt lows and surprising highs.
Saro brings Nigeria to the London stage with actors and artists who are clearly passionate and dedicated to the production they are bringing to life. The vibrancy of the clothes, colours, songs and dancing lifts the audience and helps to focus on the essence of the production and overlook some of the technical areas that need some attention. I liked hearing passionate love songs being sang in Yoruba, though I didn’t understand the language the message of the songs were clear.
It is clear that Saro was written with the ambition to provide as full and meaningful a representation of Lagos as possible, on the whole this was achieved
The actors have strong voices that would have been enhanced with better sound control (mics and levels), as this was the first night I think subsequent shows will benefit from the team being able to correct some of the first night glitches. It is clear that Saro was written with the ambition to provide as full and meaningful a representation of Lagos as possible, on the whole this was achieved. However, there were some moments that could have benefitted from further development in the story. There is a love story that leaves us curious as to what happens next with the young couple. There is also a scene of some importance, which incorporates some historical context to Lagos and touches on the issue of migration. This could have been better embedded in the story so it would have felt smoother and more connected with the rest of the production.
However, the cast did not let circumstances influence their performance, watch out for particularly strong vocals from the characters Jane played by Ade Laoye and Olaitan played by Patrick Diabuah. The cast and crew came together and delivered a musical that entertains, provides some insight into the history of Lagos and shows that dreams can come true if you keep the faith you too can ‘Blow!’
Info: Saro the Musical is at the Shaw Theatre until 29 August 2017 / see listing