By Efeturi Doghudje
Most people probably figured it out at the end, that the Thespian Theatre production of Mad King of Ijudiya was actually an adaptation of the life of Herod in the bible. Not sure why Wikipedia refers to him as “the great,” but Herod was the villain in the Christmas story, a wicked king who saw the baby Jesus as a threat and wanted to murder him.
In the Mad King, Herod is King Ero Ba n’Ise, the arrogant, defiant and fearless king of Ijudiya played by Segun Arinze. His mother, Olori, and the warrior, Iberu, were played by Joke Silva and Akin Lewis respectively.
It was refreshing to watch our veterans on stage. Arinze brought his expertise and experience to bear. Even when he whispered, he was audible and commanded fear in his subjects. Akin Lewis was a delight to watch. His stage movement and presence could not be mistaken; I appreciated him better after watching this play.
The remarkable Joke Silva, cannot be taken for granted anywhere. I listened raptly to her lines and most times, it felt like the audience was getting a lesson on the English language. Her speech pattern was outstanding and her gait, amazing. Her total performance reeked of a skillset that can never be bought.
Mad King of Ijudiya was a rich blend of folklore, traditional dance and music that transported the audience to a typical African village setting. Majority of the tribes were represented; if not in song, then in attire. This was commendable.
An innovation worth noting was the presence of a digital screen on stage; digital meets traditional. This, for me, was new, different and fresh. The screen doubled as a backdrop for the set and was also used for footage of scenes for clearer understanding of what was going on.
Mad King of Ijudiya was an awesome performance with a great cast. As a fan of adaptions, even though most of them are foreign – it is about time Nigerian movies embrace adaptations – it was good to see a popular story in our own light. Kudos to the Thespian family.
Mad King was written by Ayodele Jaiyesimi and directed by Abiola Segun-Williams of Tinsel fame.
(This article was first published on xplorenollywood.blogspot.com. It is republished here with permission from the author.)