You: A Satirical Food for Thought
Satire is one of those literary tools that can workout out just as good as it can turn out tacky. With that in mind I waited somewhere between excitement and apprehension as the opening acts for Yaw’s You set the stage with rib cracking comedy that included Kenny Black, a musical comedian that took the crowd by so much surprise, it would be unfair to review the evening without a mention of his performance.
The play opened with a short sketch about what can be best described as the ‘Nigerian condition’. A man is brought to a police station by an angry mob for knocking down a pedestrian at a zebra crossing. Characteristically, he is unapologetic about his contempt for civility and the rule of law. Ironically, even the police officer in charge of enforcing the law is found wanting fulfilling his duty. With less than a slap on the wrist, he lets the suspect go after confessing that he himself is fond of breaking the law. A perfect representation of our broken system from the outermost surface-the citizen, to the innermost core-law enforcement.
Using a series of unconnected sketches reflecting recent real life events in a non-chronological timeframe, the play unfolds to expose not only the problems with Nigeria’s political system, but the silent and occasionally active co-operation of her citizens in compounding these problems. The play ends with a directive for the audience to seek change first on a personal level before expecting it at the communal and governmental level. On the surface, a straightforward philosophy and basic truth. But on further inspection, one must ask if humans by nature are directed towards lawfulness, or are we just regulated by established systems? It is no secret that Nigerians are a lot more law abiding abroad while foreigners imbibe our apparent lawlessness to adapt to our system. The question of change starting from the citizen or the system is truly a conundrum similar to what came first, the chicken or the egg?
As can be expected from veterans, both major characters, Yaw and Okey Bakasi, displayed a stellar performance. From a literary perspective, Yaw seemed to have taken the route of exaggerated obvious facts as opposed to an underhanded subliminal approach to pass on his message, that being my only minus for what was otherwise an entertaining play full of bitter humor and reflective of sad truths. On the grounds of innovation and provoking new dimensions of thought, it can be argued that You brings nothing new to the table. However, some will say since the problems are old and unchanging, the solutions too will not evolve, though their delivery through art mediums may change.
You remains an entertaining and edifying piece nonetheless. I hope it is rebooted for future performances.
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