Eating is always a key event in African homes and anywhere that there is food you will find laughter, music, good company and elders telling stories of their youth. All of these wonderfully homely things are present in the Young Vic’s latest triumph aptly named Feast a story that takes you on a roller-coaster journey spanning over 300 years reminding us of the connections we have to each other and to our history.
Telling the story of 3 sisters, each embodying the energy of a Yoruba Orisha (Deity), Yemaya/Yemoja/Yemanga represents the mother figure. The deity of women, she is the mother goddess. Oshun, the vain sister, represents Love and beauty and finally Oya. She is the fiery sister; quick to anger and filled with a fighting spirit, all aspects that are prevalent in the original Deity.
The play begins with the sisters travelling to a family feast. They come to a crossroads where they are met by Eshu (the trickster Orisha) who tells them of slavers who have already travelled the road the sisters are about to take which causes them to scatter in separate directions. This starts their journey through Brazil at the end of slavery, America during the civil rights movements, Cuban communism and then onto New York finally settling in London. Over the 300 years we see the sisters separated and brought back together with food playing a vital part in these interactions. As the story unfolds we are made aware how the world is connected to African Traditional religions. In Cuba it’s called Santería, in Brazil it’s Candomblé with the spirit of it all maintained in America and London.
What immediately blows you away with Feast is the use of lighting and visual projections, the colours and imagery perfectly expressing the richness of the culture that they are sharing.
But as a Ghanaian I was slightly frustrated by the amount of Yoruba being spoken without initial translation, although I do concede that this was necessary to recognise that we were dealing with precious things from spiritual lands.
There was only one element of the play that I felt disappointed with and that was the obvious sexualisation of the black male. I don’t believe that it was integral to the plot of the play and immediately reminded me of the Mandingo fantasy/fear that exists within the European community.
Feast navigates quickly around the realities, standards and indeed double standards of life as an African in strange lands (even if those strange lands have been your home since birth).
The music and movement was exciting and emotive and the time flew by with me soaking in this amazing feast of sight and sound.
While it is impossible to squeeze generations of lessons, stories and beliefs into 1hr 40mins Feast is a great starting point, whetting appetites and reminding us all to embrace chaos find our “Ori” meaning ‘Head’ or more significantly intuition and destiny and “Just do you”.
Feast was reviewed by Natalie Fiawoo For The British Blacklist
To book tickets for Feast Click Here