Rotimi’s Man Talk, Woman Talk resonates with love, mutual respect for both sexes
One of the ways our immediate and larger society can be good places to live in is when the male and female genders identify their natural roles and keep to them. The sexes should realise that they are to complement each other and that no particular gender is superior to the other. They should be conscious of the fact that God, who, in His infinite wisdom, created man and woman, endowed each gender with different physiological features and did so for the sexes to harmoniously relate, fulfilling their needs of each other.
These have been the massages from B/Rated Production and Twilight Theatre since two Sundays ago at Ace-Olivia, City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, when they presented the battle of the sexes in late Prof. Ola Rotimi’s play titled Man Talk, Woman Talk.
Directed by Bimbo Olorunmola, the play, one of the unpublished works of the late playwright, Rotimi, humorously tells the chaos the society faces, when men and women blame each other for the wrongs of the society, instead of jointly finding solutions to their problems.
Set in a courtroom, though devoid of the usual court technicalities and legal jargon, the play uses humour, arguments and counter-arguments to present the views of two idealistic youthful contenders, Michael (Bimbo Olorunmola) and a sassy lady, Carina (Oluwatosin Adeyemi) who accuse the other sex for being the main cause of societal rot.
While Mike accuses Carina and other women generally of using their luscious bodies to entice men and make them do their biddings, Carina counters with arguments that men’s senses lie upside down between their thighs and that they use their machismo to make ladies conform to their desires. She adds that the urge to satisfy the men has made ladies to go the extra mile to outdo one another, bleach their skin, dress cute, paint their faces and attach artificial hairs to their heads, in order to look beautiful and draw attention.
As these arguments and counter-arguments rage, a two-man jury, made up of a Counselor (Uche Chika Elumelu) and a Judge (Austine Onuoha), becomes divided. The judge, a man, supports the male folk, while the Counselor, a woman, takes side with the female gender. This creates good humour, aside putting each character against the other. But in a twist of genius, the arguments change with the judge being carried away by the beauty and logical presentations of the lady contender, Carina, especially when his son (Julius Obende), a friend of the court, enters the courtroom with evidence to help the case.
Flooring her opponent with her logical argument, even when it is obvious the judge has reversed the result on the grounds that women are the cause of the troubles in society, he shows that women’s vote don’t count and things must be the way men want them.
NOT designed to prove which gender is superior, but to uncover the complementary roles men and women play in society, the playwright shows that if society is to be steered aright for the desired impact, both sexes must forgo their egos and eccentric behaviours and listen to one another and act the talk.
To make the play as topical as possible, the director introduced a few changes, such as, a love song and the judge’s use of a cell phone. The cast really showcased great aptitude at interpreting their individual roles. Strickingly, Adeyemi and Olorunmola mesmerised the audience with their arguments and body languages, while Onuoha upped it by showing his ability to play diverse roles – the old and young. Though a wonderful play, Elumelu would have performed better had she paid more attention to her intonation. Apart from being thick, it sometimes misled the audience about what she was saying. Her pronunciation of the word ‘your’ for ‘yaw’ and others was misleading, as they were the direct opposite of what she meant to say.
On the other hand, the play raises the question of recognising the women folk, as playing complementary roles to the man. It queries the age-long belief of most African cultures that women are to be seen and not to be heard, to be treated like household items only good for making babies and a little bit higher than slaves.
Here, the playwright is using the stage medium to call on opinion moulders and the custodians of our diverse cultures to give the woman a place to express herself, contribute her quotas, rather than seeing her as a lesser being to the man. It calls to mind that both sexes need each other to move society forward and as such, their relationship should be built on love, care, trust and mutual respect. It also acknowledges the fact that to talk, we must learn to listen and understand each other and be ready to sacrifice all egos on the alter of the collective good.