Chronicles Of Eniyan tells a cautionary lifestyle tale
Was Henry Adams, an American Historian, speaking out of experience when he said: ‘Friend in power is a friend lost?’ However, the reality of this saying came to the fore in a stage play titled, The Chronicles of Eniyan. Performed by the Mask Theatre Troupe, the play tells the story of a man, Bibire (Boniface Efebe), who, rising from grass to grace, forgets his benefactors and those with whom he had laboured to attain success. Life smiles at him and he has almost everything he wants, including women, at his beck and call.
Bibre soon becomes power drunk and begins to see those not as fortunate as he is, as being lazy and never-do-wells. He would abuse anyone who comes to him for help and send his guards against anyone contesting anything with him. He makes his creditors forfeit their money, while his debtors go through hell to pay him. He becomes a lord unto himself and to the powerless in his community. Nobody, not his numerous wives and concubines, dare challenge him or speak out against his actions. He becomes a thorn in the flesh of the villagers, who are forced to silently accept him for who he has become.
As wealthy and powerful as Bibire is, however, he is impotent; not many people know this. He feels bad that with his influence and wealth, he would have no heir to inherit his vast wealth. He has visited many medicine men for help, carried out many sacrifices, yet the situation remains the same. And each time he remembers this, he feels dispirited.
However, things change for good when Ewatomi (Grace Udome), the beauty, comes into Bibire’s life. Ewatomi is full of promises to turn things around, but Bibire has to pay the price of being loyal to her. Just while they are settling down to consummate themselves, death comes to warn Bibire to mend his ways. But like the hunter’s dog that will not hear the master’s whistle, Bibire ignores warning from the owner of life. Instead, he prefers to appoint people to beg death to leave him or to take his maids in his place. In his joyous moment, death snatches him away.
At his demise, everyone rejoices, heaves a sigh of relief; they gladly pull down the empire he set up, while his family members and guards go their different ways.
Directed by Awoyinka Davids, the play highlights themes such as betrayal, egocentrism, bigotry and others vices to warn the audience that no matter ones height in life he/she cannot get everything he/she wants.
The play is relevant to the current political dispensation, with those elected presiding over the affairs of the people. Having been elected into office, do they abandon the people and the promises they had made or work for the good of the people? It’s also reminded the audience that the only worthy rent a man pays for occupying the space he calls home (earth) is service to humanity, as death does not respect anyone and may come at any time.
Although a good storyline, with the cast doing its best to carry their role interpretation, lapses, however, abound, especially on the part of Bibire. He is in a hurry at interpreting his roles and ends up merely reciting his lines: from the way he carried on, it appeared he was improvising. Also, projected as a rich man, Bibire’s mien and wardrobe did not reflect his status. The director should do well next time to work on this aspect. His dress sense is no better than the poor folks he mocks and bullies with his wealth.
Ewatomi showed mastery of her part as she animated the play with her performance. In fact, her body language and seductive movements brought the play home and drew applauses.
Also, some of the maid could have performed better if they had loosened up a bit; the director did not work hard on. It was clear they felt self-conscious; they didn’t act natural, as is necessarily the demand of stage plays.
On the whole, the play encourages the act of giving, as a way of life and that the moment one stops doing so one is presumed dead.
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