Another Episode Of Trauma… Of Vendetta, Bitter Lessons
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” So propounded Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian sage, who was against the use of violence to effect change — political or social — in India. This dictum is always forgotten each time warmongers are at their best.
As a way of drumming the message of non-violence and vendetta, Live Theatre on Sunday staged Another Episode of Trauma to thrill Lagos audience at the New Unity Centre, Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos. The play tells the story of Joseph, whose younger sister is killed in the northern part of Nigeria, while she observing the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Troubled by a nation inability to protect its future leaders from some mindless group called Boko Haram in the name of religion to send young Nigerians to their early graves, Joseph plans a reprisal attack on the group and their supporters.
Joseph begins to attack the ungodly group with his newspaper articles and cartoons, which bring him fame and large following. Through this approach Joseph finds a friend in Tonia, who is also crying for a change. The twosome wants change in the polity, but through different means. While Joseph chooses the radical approach, Tonia wants a supple method to effect political change that would not lead to bloodletting. At first the bosom friends are working with one mind until the belligerence gets the better of Joseph and it begins to manifest. This makes Tonia to infirm Mariam, Joseph’s wife what her husband is up to.
Mariam pleads with her husband to have a change mind and let God have His way, but he does not listen. He is bent on revenging his sister’s death.
Joseph’s retaliatory mission sets him on a bitter collision with Tonia and his wife. His planned actions cause him psychological imbalance that creates tension in his home, work and society; his actions threaten to harmony in his marriage. However, he insists on carrying out his revolutionary plans and secretly begins to gather arms and ammunition.
Having gathered enough weapons, Joseph launches out at his target group, using the guerilla warfare method. Unfortunately, he finds himself entangled in a web, as his opposing group overpowers him, attacks and kills all his family members, including his pregnant wife. Not able to stomach the misfortune, Joseph takes his own life.
Written by Temiloluwa Fosudo, directed by Sylvester Obieze and produced by Adenugba Oluwanishola for Davidhouse Multimedia, apart from cautioning those fanning the ember of war, the play charges those instigating trouble in the country to be mindful of their actions, as war does not discriminate against those it affects, including innocent bystanders who have nothing to do with it. It calls on those in power to be responsive and responsible to the people, especially the weak that cannot really defend themselves.
However, Another Episode of Trauma has some shortfalls. The lead character Joseph lacks the charm to interpret the role of someone calling for a political change. In fact, his body language is at variance with what he says. Also, his vocal delivery wasn’t strong enough to carry through, as the audience had to strain to hear him. A better actor would have carried the role more admirably to bring out the message better.
Mariam lived up to her billing, as she tried to convince her husband to let sleeping dogs lie. She showed class in her performance and tried to make up for the lead actor’s shortcomings. Although a small stage, the director should have used lighting effect to show those nerve-wrecking parts instead of allowing the casts to merely tell the story. Also, entrance to the stage from the left made it akward for the audience, as they were made to shift attention that way; they expected most of the action to come from there. He might as well have created a balance by making some of the parts, if possible, to emanate from amidst the audience.