Dark rooms of memories
Fusing poetry, dance and drama, Strelitzia is an experimental piece that internalises poems with different theatrical gestures. Strelitzia, written by Donna Ogunnaike, presents a trajectory of experiences around human existence. The performance throws light on most of the fundamental aspects of life: time and memory.
However, it does not leave out ‘banal’ subjects such as sensuality.
The piece was presented in fragments with the audience led by a costumed-dancer, who like a fairy, guides them into rooms filled with memories of things and events of the past. Each of the room is symbolic, filled with experiences of human existence — from a man who is unable to detach himself from life tangles to the shadow-dance of a nude girl with a long tie that raises one’s sensuality.
In the last movement, is the story of Bisi whose love life is ruined by time and her economic status. The progression of the story is interrupted by another tale of Clementina — a clear case of religious hypocrisy in social space of Nigeria.
This interim story cheapens the plot and one almost forgets about Amina until the story returns to her again. In addition, a suggestion could have helped the audience understand Lati’s character, whether he is a Christian convert or not.
In an effort to connect the audience to the issues thematised in her story, Donna Ogunnaike ask them to participate in the performance by un-bottling their minds through writing on the wall of the final room. Share your memories on the wall, she urges the audience members in the concluding sequence of the play.
In all, with apt costuming, lighting, props and actions that track conditions around human existence, all the genres in the piece are beautifully sustained.
*Salawu Olajide is a participant in the ongoing Young Critics workshop organised by the International Association of Theatre Critics, British Council Nigeria and Guardian Newspapers as part of 2017 Lagos Theatre Festival