What Men Want … a metaphor for African women’s travail
It is a universal truism that the male folk across the globe is faced with issues bothering on business, politics, family, multiple sex partners and how to sustain their macho in a space where women are seriously finding platforms to express their innate energies and even being breadwinners in some homes.
Aside from business challenges, women are troubled when their husbands, despite their wealth and healthy children, have flings, especially when the wife is putting in her best to see their marriage work.
It is this capricious attitude of some men that pushes some women to want to misbehave. Some even go as far as cursing their husbands. And for those who cannot curse their husbands for breaking their hearts or cheating on them, blame monogamy for their ‘ill-luck’ with the conclusion that “one woman is never enough for the average man.”
Live Theatre on Sunday recently engaged its audience with the play, What Men Want. Written by Adelarin Awotedu with Adenugba Oluwanishola as executive producer, the play steps up the gender debate and showcases multiple themes such as, marital infidelity, family squabble, randy husband and others.
Opening with Morenikeji (Morolayo Fakeye) reminiscing about her past, when she and Kunle, her husband, used to enjoy themselves while the children were away at school, her disposition suddenly changes, as she recalls how Kunle of late describes her, as passé and stays away from home. He now keeps late nights.
Managing the situation, as they already have the number of children they want and the kids doing well in schools abroad, Morenikeji gets the shock of her life when Susan (Mary Ann Eziekwe) walks in to say she is Kunle’s new wife.
Though enraged, Morenikeji, initially takes the matter lightly, but Susan would not go; she packs her belongings, relocating to the house and begins to make herself comfortable. Gradually, conflict ensues between Morenikeji, the first wife, and Susan, the would-be second wife.
Thinking she knows how to satisfy Kunle’s sensual desires, the sassy lady begins to taunt the first wife, who never fails to tongue-lash her too for marrying a man old enough to be her father.
Intimidated by Susan’s dress sense, Morenikeji begins to dress cute to win back her husband’s love. She, however, gives up the fight when she realises she is no match to Susan when it comes to such game. She takes solace in the adage that says, ‘the cane used to chase away the first wife is being reserved for the second wife.’
The two disagreeing women later come together, when it is dicovered their husband is planning to take a third wife. They plot to stop him. While Morenikeji handles the matter more maturely, Susan gets hot, wanting to meet their husband’s secret lover and tear her into pieces.
Hell, however, is let loose when Susan finally meets Sidi, a 60-year old woman Kunle is going out with. Susan attacks Sidi, who gives her the beaten of her life. Apart from being older than the first wife, Sidi runs a local restaurant where Kunle regularly eats. She is also known for giving her seven children to different men. Hearing this, Susan wonders what on earth could attract Kunle to such an irresponsible old woman with abominable sexual history?
Simple and short, the 45-minute play has no male cast. In fact, the randy Kunle is an ‘absentee husband.’
What Men Want is a rhetoric posed with multifaceted responses. With infidelity as main theme, the play showcases cast whose body languages and tonal expressions perfectly interpret their roles. Also, the playwright allows the character development to reach crescendo, where Susan is beaten blue-black and she learns the hard lessons of never to dictate for an Africa man the number of wives to marry.
This systematic approach of unveiling the identity of the two wives comes in parts: firstly, Susan is in control in the early scenes, where she bullies the first wife.
The second and concluding part sees Morenikeji dictating the pace. This time, she does not take her pound of flesh on Susan, but consoles and welcomes her to her home. She makes her to realise that the only way to win is to summit; to accept her fate as the second wife with more women on the way.
Though, the play depicts some of the heartbreaks the African woman experiences in marriage, it however, did not project feminism, instead it shows the African woman as docile and has to accept all the nuisances of her husband in the name of culture. It also projects the African man, as a polygamist, who asserts his authority on wives, without minding the consequences of such actions. However, the core lesson is that women should fortify their hearts against betrayal, because no woman is immune to men’s sweet talk and other antics they employ to get the woman they want.
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