Unbroken, an uncompromising stage performance by the creative ingenuity of Dan Kpodoh
Peter Ogwara’s ‘Unbroken’, a stage play that speaks to domestic violence, recently, came out live on stage through the creative directorial exploration of Dan Kpodoh. Dim Oba takes us through its review on stage.
Unbroken is written by Peter Ogwara and directed Dan Kpodoh at the prestigious Arena Event Centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The play was performed and produced by Active Theatre House and other renowned actor.
Cynthia is a professional woman married into money. Her husband Mr. Douglas is a spoilt brat who is heir to his rich father’s largesse. Cynthia is a victim of her own insecurities and her husband’s unbridled rage. Esosa, their maid gets caught in the circle of violence but makes various attempts to save her mistress.
Eventually, Cynthia is saved when her mother in law visits and Esosa’s unbridled tongue forces a confession. And then begins the anticlimax and the flaw in the story. Douglas’s mom forces him to sign a rather unbelievable agreement with Cynthia or face being disinherited. He agrees to this and the tables turn ( or so we think) until Cynthia re emerges after a game of hide and seek and dressed like Douglas’s side chick does. Herein lies the twist in the tale.
Cynthia’s transformation reinforces the stereotype of placing the burden of ending abuse on the woman. She is supposed to do everything to save her marriage and attract her husband. The onus to make it work is shifted to her and the man is allowed an unbridled appetite and long rope of unpardonable behaviour.
The stage performance of Unbroken is a brilliant theatrics display of music, dance, drumming and acting. The performance deployed all aspects of theatre in an a total theatre concept with accompanying lights, costume, dialogue, make-up and scene design.
Kpodoh’s creative ingenuity was on unleashed upon the audience who were spellbound in the thrills and suspect in the action packed stage production. As a director, Kpodoh pulled out characters from the scripted drama, reeling out action after action in a master stroke precision in the delivery of lines with corresponding action entrapping the audience in empathy for the characters.
The performance scored high in terms of their interpretation of their characters, this some members of the audience can attest to without a second thought, they were in for a theatrical performance, yet were betrayed by their emotions. One such audience member is Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, an award winning journalist.
Semenitari, in her opinion said the actors give ‘real’ life to the characters through the directorial approach of Kpodoh. In many ways the audience find themselves relieving memories as they are transported to the stage, engaging with the performance and merging with the characters.
She said, “the rendition of unbroken was beautiful and the acting was real with conversations flawless and unrehearsed. From the beginning we are aware that the story would be one of pain and abuse, the title and poster make that evident.
” Altogether however Kpodoh brings to us real life contemporary stories. His rendition of these stories leave much room for thought. We await the next show. Thank you for keeping our city alive”, Semenitari said.
Despite the lack of funds that posed as a major change challenge according to the director, Kpodoh, the performance did not compromise with scene design, lightening, costumes and make-up. These critical aspects of a theatrical performance were given detailed attention to compliment the interpretation of the characters.
The lightening created an asthestics ambiance that lighten the mood of the characters and depicting time and emotion as the play progresses. The lightening design fused artistically with the costume and make up design of the characters.
The background songs are rendered artistically without missing the tempo and pace in the succession of actions. One would have thought, the actors are career musicians but it shows the dexterity and fluidity of the actors in character interpretation.
Good story line told in an uncompromising directorial approach and concept. With the theatre going near extinction in Nigeria, Kpodoh’s directorial interpretation of ‘Unbroken’ will sure make more person to anticipate the next production date.