The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrior and his Sexy Wife Chipo

Theatre, Off-West End
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 (© Richard Davenport)
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© Richard Davenport

'The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir and his Sexy Wife Chipo'

 (© Richard Davenport)
2/4
© Richard Davenport

'The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir and his Sexy Wife Chipo'

 (© Richard Davenport)
3/4
© Richard Davenport

'The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir and his Sexy Wife Chipo'

 (© Richard Davenport)
4/4
© Richard Davenport

'The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrioir and his Sexy Wife Chipo'

With a title as silly as the one Denton Chikura has given to his new play, you might expect something equally bonkers onstage. In this instance, you’d be right on the money: Chikura’s hilariously mad show, directed by Lucian Msamati in his first production as artistic director of British African theatre company Tiata Fahodzi, more than lives up to its name.

Blending a distinct sense of the pantomime, complete with encouraged audience interaction in the form of ‘oooos’ and ‘aaahhhs’, with a heap of references from modern British, African and American culture, the play takes us on the irreverent journey of Nhamo, a lowly goat herder from the African bush.

When the mysterious Narrator (a suave and Faustian Don Gilet) prays to the gods of storytelling for a hero for his new soap opera, they direct him towards Nhamo, an unsuspecting, simple man, who barely knows what TV is. Narrator promises he will become a hero and find a wife so Nhamo agrees to go with him.

What follows occasionally gets confusing, not least because of the script's meta-theatrical moments – the actors’ roles in the soap opera and the play itself tend to merge into one.

But despite this, the humour in Chikura’s script is wonderfully sharp. There’s a lot of remorseless teasing of lazy stereotypes and our obsession with mod-cons. Through this, Chikura cleverly gets us to consider the way cultural identity in both Britain and Africa has changed.

In truth the constant, panto-style gags would probably tire but for the four strong comic performances at the show’s heart - especially Nyasha Hatendi's superbly deadpan Commander Specimen - which lift this to a frolicking, mirth-filled night.

 

By Daisy Bowie-Sell

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