In Snapshots communication gap takes centrestage
Lagos, land of aquatic splendour and opportunities, will continue to attract attention from local and foreign investors, as well as the Federal and state governments, especially with its fast-rising mega-city status.
Perhaps, it is in recognition of this that the play, Snapshots, was presented by Double Crown Troupe for live theatre audience.
Staged at Club One, Lagos, the play opens with a town crier singing for the people of Araromi, a slum, to wake up from their slumber. Through the songs, the town crier urges everybody to work hard to achieve their goals in life. He paints horrifying pictures of what would likely befall an indolent person in Araromi.
Sunup, the landlord of the major house in the slum, Baba Gentle (Akeem Falaye), saunters to the veranda looking worried. He has just lost a fortune and, to add salt to his injury, he hears that his house has been marked for demolition. Information making the rounds has it that the entire slum will be demolished for the new Urban Master Plan.
Baba Gentle and other inhabitants of the community begin scheming so that the plan does not work. They vow to make this government go the way others before it had gone.
To save his family house from going down, the landlord goes to his elder brother, Agba (Mark Adewale), a land speculator and an influential figure in Lagos politics, for help. He, however, finds out that his elder brother, too, is as helpless as he and other Araromi inhabitants.
At the said day of the demolition, inhabitants of the town, in one accord, abduct and drug the driver of the bulldozer (Dele Adeoti), threatening to do more harm to anybody that touches their houses.
While the confusion drags on, word gets to the people that the Urban Plans has been modified to turn the ghetto into a tourism and cultural destination, with modern facilities to attract tourists across the globe aside boosting business in the state.
By this change, everyone is free to live and carry on his/her economic and social activities as usual.
Armed with this new knowledge, the people realise that they have shot themselves in the foot; they release the driver, who is still suffering from the effects of the drug administered on him and as such could not operate the bulldozer.
This puts the project on hold pending when he regains consciousness, as there is no one within the limited time frame to operate the machine.
Highlighting themes, including unity, perseverance, impunity, civil servants’ high handedness among others, the play shows how communication gap between leaders and the ruled leads to both parties not trusting each other, which to a large extent makes the people to work at cross-purposes with little or no result achieved.
This creates a lot of acrimony in the polity, making government believe that the people do not support its policy, and in turn, uses the instruments of coercion to achieve what dialogue should ordinarily done with ease. It also brings to the fore the issue of government being too faraway from the people, which gives some powerful citizens the opportunity to play god.
Written by Bode Sowande, but directed by Nike Ademola, the play also reveals the extent to which the oppressed can go to express their ill feelings when pushed to the wall. Inherent in this, is a warning to those in power: they should never think that because they have the machinery of governance in their control, as represented by the inhabitants of Araromi, that the people couldn’t rise against them.
The people of Araromi are no doubt, a personification of the people’s might. Nigerian government had a pitch of this during Jonathan’s oil subsidy removal. Here, it depicts that with one mind, a well-informed citizenry can change government’s policy; no matter the level it has reached. Lastly, the play calls for the need to first understand government’s policy before criticising it.
However, despite its good storyline, Snapshots is long, complex and a bit difficult to understand. This complexity makes it boring, as it jumbles disparate themes and ideas together and therefore becloud comprehension.
Here, good lighting would have been most appropriate to explain some of the sub-plots, particularly in giving expression to the different moods. Also, it would have been proper to use light to flashback some of the emotional scenes, such as where Lady Gaga (Toro Olwusegun) and her girls showed they were streetwalkers.
Though, the director effectively managed the large cast, he, however, did not adequately depict the status of the various groups with the right costumes. Also, may be because of space, the entrance and exit was not properly marked out, which confused some of the cast, making them to use the exit when they are supposed to use the entrance. This further heightened the complexity of the play.
A melodrama of Nigeria, where the people and government trivialise and politicalise serious economic projects, the hilarious comedy deploys a collage of activities to show how the people most times thwart government’s good intention to develop the country and reasons government should from time to time hold town hall meetings to explain its policies to the people.
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