Thursday, August 16 – 22, 2007
IN THE CHEST OF A WOMAN? GOOD AND EVIL!
BY: NII LARYEA KORLEY
Where there’s a woman, there’s magic. That’s how African writer, Ntoshage Shange, expressed her conviction that one can never always grasp the rationale behind a woman’s actions. Similar sentiments were re-echoed at the National Theatre last week where Efo Kodjo Mawugbe’s play, In the Chest of a Woman, ran for three nights.
When Efo’s women bared their chests, it was hard to understand why a woman would persuade her daughter to hold herself out as a boy and not rise to her defence when her life was at stake as a result of the deceit. Another woman fell desperately in love with her cousin and defiantly claimed she had been impregnated by a woman.
There were other instances that eventually showed that in the chest of a woman are an array of things including aggression, treachery, deceit, negative ambition, love and wisdom. The so-called fairer sex cannot be pigeonholed because she is capable of anything.
In the Chest of a Woman is about succession in a kingdom called Ebusa where the elder daughter of the Queen-mother, played by Agartha Ofori, is side-stepped in favour of younger male sibling. She is greatly incensed by the action and resolves to turn things around through any means, fair or foul.
Chief Justice Georgina Wood, in whose honour the play was staged, was in the audience on the well-attended opening night. Her appointment to the very high legal office in the land had prompted dramatist Efo Mawugbe, who is also the Deputy Executive Director (Artistic) of the National Theatre, to rescusitate the play he had first written and directed some 22 years ago.
Credit must go to Efo Mawugbe for his firm grasp of Ghanaian Culture which was displayed in delightful proverb-laden dialogue, ‘silly’ village gossip and humorous outbursts by the characters. These were thoughtfully sprinkled in the play, putting the audience constantly on edge for something to smile, sneer or cheer about.
Casting on the whole was good. Agartha Ofori was in total command of her role as the slighted elder daughter of the queenmother who dreams up a grand scam to annex the stool. Her caustic, feminist, anti-male pronouncements drew cheers; mainly from the females. Some of the men in the audiences shouted back at her to mind her language.
Agnes Dapaah has played countless roles standing or sitting but as the weak, old dying queenmother, she had lie flat on her back for the period she was on stage. The veteran actress handled that well. Edinam Atatsi and Agnes Panfred were so natural with their gossip sessions that they carried the audience along everytime they appeared on stage.
Pamela Karikari, Vera Bonney, Dr. Osei Agyeman, Solo Sampah and the rest of the actors acted well. Otopah Poakwa, who played the king role was at his best when he threatened to abdicate instead of sitting by to see custom enslave his people. Production elements like costumes, lighting and sets aided the smooth flow of the plot.
The play ran for three hours without an intermission but the audience sat through and enjoyed every bit of it. There have been appeals from the public to the National Theatre to re-stage the play. Efo Mawugbe says the request will be met in October after the play has toured Koforidua, Cape Coast, Takoradi and Kumasi.
GRAPHIC SHOWBIZ, Thursday, August 16-22, 2007. Page: 3