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Adelarin Awotedu in what men want

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A scene from the play

Can the male folk ever be satisfied with the female? Is it possible for a man to keep only one woman? Is cheating part of his nature? How best can a woman keep her husband? These are some of the questions the stage play, What Men Want, answers.

Written by Adelarin Awotedu, the play interrogates gender questions. It showcases multiple themes that include, infidelity in marriage, family squabbles and jealousy.

Opening with Morenikeji reminiscing her past, when she and her husband, Kunle, used to live like new lovers with their children away in school, her disposition suddenly changes, when she recalls her husband’s latest tantrum. He even keeps late nights.

She manages the situation, because they already have their desired number of children, and more importantly, the children are doing well in schools abroad. Morenikeji gets the shock of her life when Susan walks in to say she is Kunle’s new wife.

Though enraged, Morenikeji initially takes the matter lightly. Susan will not go. Suddenly, conflict ensues between the two women, which makes Susan to move in to her husband’s house to prove she is the 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 puts up a fight to dress cute to win back her husband’s love. She, however, gives up the fight when she realises she is no match for Susan.

She takes solace in the adage, the cane used to chase away the first wife is reserved for the second wife.

The two disagreeing women later come together, when they heard that 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, but the new woman is up to the game. She gives Sidi the beaten of her life. Apart from being older than the first wife, the new wife runs a local restaurant where Kunle regularly eats. She is also known for giving her seven daughters to different men.

Hearing this, Susan wonders what on earth could attract Kunle to such a woman.

Simple and short, the 45-minute play has no male cast. In fact, the randy Kunle is an absentee husband. Though the play has a minimal cast, it explores topical issues.

What Men Want is a rhetoric pose with multifaceted responses. With infidelity as main theme, the playwright allows the character development to rise gradually until it reaches crescendo, where Susan is beaten blue-black and Morenikeji wonders what exactly their husband really wants in women.

Kunle personifies the traditional African man, in their marriage, especially when it concerns the man getting another woman or having affairs outside his marriage.

The unveiling of the two wives comes in parts: Firstly, Susan is in control in the early few scenes. She bullies the first wife all. The second and concluding part saw 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 in such situation is to accept her fate as the second wife with more women on the way.

Though the play depicts some of the heartbreaks African women experience in marriage, it however, does not pretend to be a feminist manifesto, instead it depicts the African woman as docile. It also projects the African man as a polygamist, who asserts his authority on his 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.

The play is produced by Adenugba Oluwanishola and directed by Ajibola Fasola. It was performed on August 24 at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Creative Arts Hall by the Live Theatre on Sunday crew for the young ones to watch and, perhaps, continue the agitation for better situation for the African woman and, also, to reorder the society for good.


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