Wagging Mind Battles Over Good And Evil In Romancing The Night

Romancing-CopyThoughts are the pathways that determine a man or woman’s direction, what he does and does not do. Good and evil spring from a man’s thoughts and it seems easier to think good thoughts than execute them. But bad thoughts or thoughts that have little value for man’s edification, thoughts that actually harm man, come easily, readily to mind; they are relatively easier to execute, but usually with fatal consequences. Indeed, how do good or bad thoughts come to minds?

How the mind functions as a battleground for good and bad thoughts that ultimately determine a man’s action and manifestation formed the core of an evangelising play Romancing the Night staged last Sunday at BlueNest Hotel, Osolo Way, Ajao Estate, Lagos. It was another theatre production of The Rose of Sharon, an arm of The Patter’s Heritage written and directed by Mr. Ben Chiadika.

Tony (kiyor Oyinmiebi) is a Christian, but who is fast falling into the trap of a hectic work-a-day demands of living in the city. Like most city dwellers, he returns home late, brings home office assignments and so has very little time to meditate on the word of God and so renew his spirit man. There are other distractions that make it almost impossible for him to read his bible and pray. His neighbor and Pastor Matthew (Femi Bolorunde) whose permissive lifestyle is source of concern for his wife (Edna Konwea) is another of Tony’s many headaches. He’s a great fan of football and doesn’t miss a match. In fact, he’s as worldly as they come. But his wife is far more sensitive and just knows that her husband has lost the fire of his first calling as a Christian. She sounds the alarm bell, but her husband just wouldn’t care. He’s contented with just being a pastor of his church and believes that is all there is. He doesn’t feel the need to work harder at his salvation beyond the ordinary.

But the real battleground is in Tony’s mind. Two agents, of good and bad, are policing his mind and the direction of his actions. These agents of supernatural realm whisper and cajole him on what he should do at every turn. While the agent of evil sways him to the left with his unrelenting insistence, the agent of good gently tries to sway him to the right. But it is clear the agent of evil is far more spirited and cunning in his activity. Of course, this is understandable. The path to evil seems more appealing while the path to good seems a little too demanding, strict and almost devoid of any worldly enjoyment. For instance, the scene where Pastor Matthew’s dashingly seductive niece arrives to stock Tony’s fridge with drinks for a party is instructive. It also provides great comic moment that aroused bouts of laughter from the audience.

The agent of evil literally pushes the wooing niece into the arms of Tony who, yet to be unmarried, finds the moment almost Godsend, but the agent of good gently reminds him who he is and why being involved with her in a carnal way will not serve him well. Whereupon Tony bursts into a praise and worship song that greatly repels the niece, who is in the church choir. What is worse, Pastor Matthew arrives soon after to announce to Tony that he actually sent his niece so Tony could have a good look at her; he designs it for Tony to fall into temptation.

The performance comes to a climax with a false alarm. Rapture is reported to have taken place and Tony, Pastor Matthew and his wife are not in the party to heaven; they have missed rapture, that transformation into heavenly glory that every Christian is expectantly waiting for. They are all devastated and a moment of soul-searching ensues. They examine their lives and see that they had come short of God’s glory and their Christian expectations. The prospect of enduring the years of the antichrist is too calamitous for them to contemplate. But it soon comes to light that it is false alarm and rapture has not occurred and that they have another chance at salvation. They begin to rededicate themselves to the service of God…

In Romancing the Night Chiadika delivers a stunning ecclesiastical message that obviously set the audience and many Christians to think about their Christian journey. The care of the world is a snare too real and too great for many a Christian who wishes to worship God in truth and spirit can afford to ignore. It is vintage theatre evangelism and Chiadika deserves commendation for reawakening city Christians, and indeed, all Christians, to the ever present danger they face in their Christian race. Yet again, Frank Konwea delivers strongly as agent of evil; he literally brought the play alive with his charming performance that provides unforgettable comic scenes that brand the play indelibly in the minds of the audience.

however, rather than stage one play just once a month, The Patter’s Heritage could take a cue from Theatre@Terra where one play is staged twice a day on two consecutive Sundays for maximum effect and to a larger audience, as those who saw it previously would announce it to yet others to go see it. Free to the public, as a Christian evangelising mouthpiece, The Patter’s Heritage has taken a bold step to bring live theatre to the most unlikely place and venue. Although not performed in none purpose-built theatre environment, the cast made the most of it since its first production Ona staged last month. Chiadika restated The Patter’s Heritage’s commitment to continue to bring stage drama to those around Isolo and Oshodi and beyond for the value of live theatre to permeate to a wider, even reluctant audience.

Performing Romancing the Night didn’t come until Spirit and Truth, the music arm of The Patter’s Heritage had taken the stage. But perhaps its most captivating performance was the Igbo song of redemption during the Nigerian Civil War or Biafra War titled ‘Nna bia nuru olu anyi… olisa bi n’elu bia nuru olu anyi o,’ (Lord, come and hear our cries) which Lady Onyeka Onwenu gave national prominence in her album. Lead performer was Mrs. Treasure Ben-Chiadika; it was accompanied with beautiful choreography that also drew applause.

The Patter’s Heritage’s next production comes up on October 18 at the same venue. Stella’s Place will be the play in focus while the music and choreography is titled Liberty in tune with Nigeria’s independence anniversary.

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