In 'Dreams from My Father', Barack Obama talks about the tragedy of a 'divided soul', torn between continents. This is the central dilemma of 'Belong', in which a British MP, sore from election defeat, quits Croydon to set up as the 'Obama of Nigeria'. Olivier-winner Bola Agbaje's co-commission for the Royal Court and African company Tiata Fahodzi buzzes with dynamic characters under the brilliant direction of Indhu Rubasingham.
So it's significant that, when not moonwalking for his mother or electrifying the marketplace with his oratory, Lucian Msamati's Kayode seems curiously empty. Leaving behind the council estates of previous hits 'Gone Too Far!' and 'Off the Endz', Agbaje opens in Kayode and his wife Rita's middle-class pad.
Little change is needed for the switch to a westernised Nigeria, where Pamela Nomvete's Mama greets her prodigal son with a set of designer handbags as loud as her disapprobation and her love, and Richard Pepple's corrupt Chief Olowolaye – a pantomime villain with crocodile shoes to match his smile – announces that he follows Kayode on Twitter.
Is nationality a question of birthplace or skin colour? Is the future of a troubled country best shaped by those who stayed or those who left? Having packed in the provocative questions along with the belly laughs – and one almighty parting gut-punch – 'Belong' leaves us questioning. One thing is for sure though, this talented young writer belongs firmly in the vanguard of contemporary British theatre.
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