Desperate Housewives of Theatre? A review of ‘The Wives’, starring Kate Henshaw, Carol King & others

by Wilfred Okiche

One Sunday July 10, while most of Lagos was battling the floods, a few people braved the weather and turned up at the Knot Centre, Yaba for a stage presentation of ‘The Wives’. Put together by the Performing Arts Workshop and Studio (PAWS), the play was written by Professor Ahmed Yerima.

Touching on themes as varied as feminism, polygamy and sexuality, ‘The Wives’ is at once traditional and modern. With scandals such as adultery, infidelity and incest, the play would give a season of ‘Desperate Housewives’ a run for its money. It tells the story of a wealthy chief who passes on and leaves his immediate family, comprising mainly of his three wives and younger sister to deal with the clutter he leaves behind.

We first meet Aunty, his younger sister as embodied by ‘I Need to Know’ and ‘Edge of Paradise’s’ Carol King. She has conflicting emotions about her brother’s death, grieving the loss, yet celebrating his life. It is clear from the start that she is the stem which holds the family together, and her role is vital, as this family has been driven apart by polygamy and Chief’s cheating ways. It is only his death that brings them together once more.

One by one, we meet his three wives and through the carefully structured plot and characterisation, each wife – from Kate Henshaw to Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju to Katherine Edoho – lets us into her grief or lack of it. You see, Chief was not an easy man to live with.

The cast gave a good account of themselves, and the women in particular were terrific. Katherine Edoho’s depiction of the empowered second wife was somewhat lacking, though. Not that she was bad, her delivery was just not at par with the rest. She was blown away in more ways than one, and we were not sorry to see her go.

One major downer in the entire production was the sound – or lack of it. We could blame it on the heavy downpour that occasioned that day but this writer has a nagging feeling that even without the rain, we would still have complaining about not hearing the actors. Those who were not inclined to shouting were disadvantaged, as their voices were drowned.

The ticket price was quite steep (N3,500), and together with the rain, might have been responsible for the poor turnout. However, going to watch ‘The Wives’ was indeed well worth the time – and money spent.

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