I had the absolute pleasure to go to the opening night of Fela at The National Theatre, every time I go to South Bank I instantly remember that London is definitely blessed with an exciting mix of diverse cultural plays, music, theatre, art and dance and The South Bank area is something that I should frequent more often.
On that note go to The Hayward Gallery to visit the Move Choreography exhibition all I can say is that they have a monkey bars installations which reminds me of Hang Tough from Gladiators, I got stuck in and left with some aches and pains the day after.
Going back to Fela, I thought that I knew what to expect, colour, vibrant singing, rump- shaking moves and the unparalleled music from Fela Kuti. I witnessed this and more besides, Sahr Ngaujah’s lead performance as Fela was funny, exhilarating and athletic he engaged with the crowd like a seasoned comedy star and seemed fully relaxed on stage.
The dancers where breath taking and really showed they’re virtuoso moves, they looked like a family stage on and off continuously weaving they’re way through the auditorium. The lighting, projections and set designs made you feel that you were in a Nigerian 70s street club, a cool mad colourful hang out.
I wanted to get up on stage and join the dancers as the music was that powerful especially when they played Zombie. At moments the audience was encouraged to stand up and move their hips and sing this unified the audience in some way and get the “stiffs” to loosen up.
It wasn’t all fun and laughs, Fela is known as an activist with uncompromising views on the government, the show saw Fela narrate his beliefs about the situation in Nigeria, we heard how his influential songs such as Zombie, Why Black Man Dey Suffer, Confusion, Black president was inspired by his time in Nigeria and America the injustices his family and friends experienced at the hands of the Nigerian government and army. The influence his mother has over him and her great importance strongly resonates in the show.
With a sincelating climax the director and choreographer Bill T. Jones joined the cast and danced around the stage with this dark muscles rippiling across his body which would put many men half his age to shame. What a show accompanied by Femi Kuti in the audience it was definately a night to linger in the mind for some time.