Hoard by Bim Adewunmi: review
Arcola Theatre

Words by: Ronke Lawal | Published: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 1:26 PM

When Rafi (Elizabeth Ita) and (Emmanuella Cole) Ami’s sister, Bili (Kemi Durosinmi) brings her African-American boyfriend Brian (Tyler Fayose) round for dinner for the first time, it's a chance for them to get to know him. But when their mother makes a surprise visit underlying tension and nerves are uncovered. She has never met Brian before and doesn't even know that he exists but from this chance meeting the family has a chance to have the difficult conversations that they have been veering away from for so long. Hoard, written by Bim Adewunmi and directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr is a story of a close-knit Nigerian-British family with a closely-guarded secret which threatens to tear them apart.

Bim Adewunmi has created something special, something tender and something authentic with this play

I was born in Hackney and grew up a stone's throw away from The Arcola Theatre where this play was performed and whilst this is a review not a bio I have to admit that I somehow felt seen whilst I was watching Hoard. Adewunmi has created something special, something tender and something authentic with this play which is set in a flat in a "Zone 4" part of London. The matriarch of the family, Wura Bakare, played by Ellen Thomas, enters her scene with the power, beauty and grace expected of an elder Nigerian woman, in fact expected of any African woman. Yet our expectations and our perceptions are challenged throughout the course of this production in a way that teaches us how to see beyond our own experience. What I particularly enjoyed about Hoard is that it told a story that so many first and second generation British born Nigerians and West Africans can relate to.

What I saw on stage was a story of lost dreams, a story of misunderstandings, a story of hidden frustrations. So many stories and secrets that we have had to keep buried to keep up appearances and yet if were allowed to communicate and to see each other across generations we would understand each other and love each other even more profoundly than we do. It would be a love based on truth rather than a love based on respect and respectability which we find so often upholds the very fabric of many diasporan homes. We are taken on a journey through the course of this play and it mirrors the journey of acceptance that some of us go through as children of the diaspora. You have to marry your two identities (where you are born and where you originate from) while your parents are holding onto their dreams and hoping that their dreams for you come to life.

There were so many poignant and touching moments and the relationship between daughter and mother was particularly significant. Ellen Thomas is an absolute star on stage her warmth, charm and dedication to her craft is reflected through every utterance of her line on that stage.

This play was a real gem which should be treasured for many more audiences to see.

Humour could be found throughout the play and Brian played by Tyler Fayose added that much needed injection of comic relief without overpowering any of his scenes. The positioning of a man in this way was particularly significant and works very well to highlight the core message of the play.

Hoard is a story of buried dreams and hidden pain, it is a story of the beauty of understanding each other at different stages of our lives and across different generations.

This play was a real gem which should be treasured for many more audiences to see.

NEED TO KNOW: Hoard is at the Arcola Theatre until June 8, 2019 | Book tickets

join our mailing list
* indicates required
Get regular updates on what's happening in the world of African-Caribbean theatre and win theatre tickets.