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Lekan Balogun’s Beyond The Sunset thrashes hard regressive culture

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A scene from the play

The call for equal treatment for the boy and girl child will be a continuous one until those concerned, especially the traditional institutions come to the realisation that both sexes are from God and should be accorded their rightful places in the family and society.

The Open playhouse last weekend use the play titled, Beyond The Sunset to further create awareness on the need to treat both sexes equally.

Written by Lekan Balogun, the play, which is based on the culture of the Igbo, has Olisa Emeka (Ben Abimbo ) maltreat his wife, Titi (Grace Ale), and his two daughters because his only son, Chidi (Tunde Makinde), who is to inherit his wealth, turns out a moron and physically challenged.

Saddened that he has an imbecile for an heir, Emeka becomes a terror to his family. He beats up his wife and daughters at the slightest provocation. The matter becomes worse, when the wife, on health grounds, could not give birth to another child after Chidi.

But as Emeka begins to prosper in business and gains prominence in society, his wife’s inability to have another child begins to haunt him; he is desperate for an able-bodied male child to inherit his wealth and continue his lineage. Not bothered about what anyone, including Father Lucas, his parish priest, and his friend, Rowland, would say about his desire, Emeka plans with his sister, Mama Icodi (Salimot Gbenro), to secretly marry Doris ( Ndidi Olise) — an arrangement that turns Titi’s children against their aunt.

Arriving her new home, Doris, instead of being a unifying force, escalates tension in the home. In order to pacify Doris, Emeka sends off his first daughter, a promising student, out of his home, into the streets; but thanks to Father Lucas, who provides her a place from where she is able to finish her secondary education and later secure a scholarship to study in the United States of America.

But this does not move Emeka to change his mind and accept his daughter. Instead, he hardens his heart and treats his mother like a maid in her matrimonial home.

However, the sweet romance between Emeka and Doris soon turns bitter, when he realises that the baby boy Doris claims to have for him actually belongs to another man, Benji (Ojo Balogun), Doris’ former boyfriend. More shocking is the fact that the revelation comes on the day the child is to be christened. Benji does not only show up at the event to take his son, but he has also Emeka and Doris arrested.

Emeka is forced to realise his prodigality as the result of his craze for an able-bodied male child. Emeka learns the bitter lesson that beyond the sunset and his cravings, as dictated by his tradition-rooted and outdated society, lays the truth that he has to accept his family members the way they are. Humiliated, he is forced to look inward; he apologises to his wife and children for his shameful behaviour and thereafter leads a happy life.

Directed by Monday Omorege, the emotion-laden play, in laying bare the patrilineal nature of most African communities, reveals how the girl-child, despite her many endowments, modernity and exposure, still suffers second class status in most homes. She is given little or no encouragement to attain her maximum potentials in society. It also highlights the various disgusting challenges mothers go through in some cultures for not having male children to take over from their husbands and carry on the family name.

The play also highlights the issue of living with mentally defective children. It exposes how families with such children, instead of showing love and care, hide them from friends, sometimes denying them normal lives.

While using the stage to entertain and educate, the play calls on the custodians of culture to take a second look at some of its cultural practices with a view to amending them to reflect prevailing changes brought by modernity. It also calls for a liberal and egalitarian society, where gender is not the determining factor in attaining full potentials or privileges.

Beyond The Sunset also enjoins society to take care of its weak or mentally challenged and treat them with respect.

Although the stage was small with only one entrance and exit, the director failed to use light to hype some of the scenes. Although the cast tried to interpret their role and bring out the core messages, like of light to tell the scenes almost blurred the messages.

The caste wore the same costume throughout the play, which did not add colours to the story and give the wrong interpretation of the story. Through, the costume, the director could effectively tell us that the girls advanced in age and changed progressed in life.


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