Theatre review: ‘A husband’s wife’ is a satisfying take on a familiar play

by Wilfred Okiche

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It is difficult to describe ‘A husband’s wife’, the domestic drama by prolific writer and filmmaker Tyrone E. Terrence but we’ll try. It is all at once a character study on the strain that the years take on a marriage, a battle-of-the sexes treatise on what side is responsible for the gradual erosion of affection in marriages, a psychological thriller plumbing the depths of a woman’s mind and her gradual descent into madness,a diary of a man’s battle with mid-life crisis and a ‘’love’’ story laying bare the very toxic nature of the word.

‘A husband’s wife’ has been staged variously with talents like Joke Silva, Dede Mabiaku and Lala Akindoju sinking their teeth into the meaty roles Mr Terrence has come up with. A 2-man play, this revival is helmed by first time director, Abiodun Kassim, a theatre-phile who as an actor, has appeared in a previous rendition. Mr Kassim posseses a familiarity with the material that enables him marshal two of the leading lights of theatre presently, Bimbo Akintola and Toyin Oshinaike.

Ms Akintola who was earlier seen in ‘V-monologues- The Nigerian story’ is in prime form here. Restrained as the character has every reason to be, she portrays effectively the pain and anguish of a woman watching helplessly as the only life she knows goes up in smoke. She demands the audience to sympathise with her, is not too proud to beg, invoke pity or use her emotions to get her way and when all else fails does the unthinkable to make her man- and every one else- pay attention. Ruled by her passions but fiercely resistant to change, the character is multi-layered and the impressive Akintola attempts to uncover each one.

Toyin Oshinaike as the straying husband takes the opposite route. His Segun is the more physically demanding role and Mr Oshinaike obviously has a ball playing him. He is every man of a certain age who has erroneously imagined that the love of a doe-eyed, impressionable young girl will lead to redemption only to find it marks the start of his road to perdition. He is given some of the most barbed dialogue of the script and Oshinaike delivers with relish, dishing out line after line of clueless obstinacy.

The chemistry wih both acts is crisp and brimming with promise although the director finds ways to undermine the actors with a poorly executed love scene that evokes only brow raising chuckles.

Music wasn’t employed as effectively as it could have been as it was not clear what exactly the background singers were trying to convey. Their inclusion did little to advance the plot and may have even distracted some with the abruptness of the entry.

At some point, the play did tend to stretch as some scenes seemed repeated, like banging needlessly on a loud gong just to invite folks in the same room for dinner. Both leads however keep things moving and the story plunges head long into the final act. Taut with suspense, the play teases the audience  before landing with the unexpected ending that is as moving as it is tragic. The director and his writer cant quite resist milking one final gasp from the audience asthe lights go out just as a recorded voice mail message comes on.

With a bristling first act, sagging mid section and punchy finale, ‘A husband’s wife’ proves a satisfying production of a familiar play.

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