Hoard is a new-writing comedy by Bim Adewunmi.
It tells the story of a close-knit Nigerian family and a closely-guarded secret which threatens to tear it apart over the course of one evening when Rafi and Ami’s sister comes home for dinner bringing her boyfriend Brian round for the first time. When their mother unexpectedly arrives, their best-laid plans turn to shreds as their mother wonders, why she wasn’t told of Brian’s existence?
Hoard has an eloquent brilliance in its writing that means the dialogue flies off the page and resonates consistently and constantly with any audience member acquainted with some of the truths and to some extents stereotypes, of the ‘African Mother‘.
Art has, in my opinion, the ability to heal wounds and can be even more beneficial to old scars than therapy simply because, it shows you an existence that you recognise, which is shared by the many. This collective humanity, which tells you that you’re not alone, is vital for helping us navigate generational traumas. Stopping us from wonder if we were the only ones who didn’t want to bring friends home for them to become the focus of the African home judicial system. Or navigating terms of diplomacy, when talking to or about the matriarchs of our families. In watching this play, I gained sisters and brothers in the audience, as we watched events unfold and communally felt the points where a “dutty slap” was imminent or the mother, ‘Wura Bakare‘, played to utter perfection by Ellen Thomas, abused the father’s side of the family- something many of us have been privy to in our lives.
All the cast of Hoard were on point but this really was the Ellen show. Every nuance and movement was researched, ingested and made to sing with a chord all hers. She was so recognisable that I saw the mother of my youth, whom I feared, the mother of my early twenties whom I learned to joke with, and the mother of my now, who I recognise as a woman in her own right, who had a life and dreams long before I came on the scene, who should be handled with love and care and empathy.
I thought Tyler Fayose’s ‘Brian‘ was also very entertaining as the all-bright, uber positive American boyfriend who sees sense in the form of the “hail fire and brimstone” mother. They were a beautiful dynamic to watch as again, it was a very true and recognisable situation we have all lived. His growing understanding of the private family matter he was witnessing was hilarity itself to watch develop.
There were elements to the play that didn’t work for me, however. I thought the use of real food detracted from the story, especially as the stage placement meant not everyone could move their chairs in toward the table so were eating fried rice from a deep distance and, so, ultimately, from off their laps at times. However, overall the stage set up and the use of music and props were well executed aside from that faux pas.
Hoard is a play everyone should see at some point and I really hope it gets a transfer and the opportunity to return.
Hoard completed its run at the Arcola Theatre on the 8th June 2019. Find out more here.