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Stage Play Review: ‘In The Chest of A Woman’ – A valid contribution to theatre’s resurgence.



In the Chest of a Woman” is not just a play; it’s a journey through time, tradition, and the indomitable spirit of womanhood. As I settled into my seat at the National Theatre last Friday night, little did I know that I was about to embark on a theatrical adventure that would leave me both entertained and profoundly moved.

Directed by the seasoned actor Ken Fiati and brought to life by the Africa Arts Network, this production of Efo Kodjo Mawugbe‘s timeless classic is a testament to the vibrancy of Accra’s theatre scene. From the moment the curtains rose, I was captivated by the compelling story unfolding before me.

Set in the ancient Ashanti kingdom, specifically the Kingdom of Ebusa, “In the Chest of a Woman” follows the courageous journey of Nana Yaa Kyeretwie, a woman who challenges societal norms in her quest to secure the throne for her daughter whom she has convinced everyone to be a boy.

In the play, Nana Yaa Kyeretwie is sidestepped by her dying mother, and her younger brother Kweku Duah is pronounced the next in line for the throne. She argues that being the first child, she rightfully can ascend the throne despite what tradition states. However, she fails to convince her mother and the elders, even with her display of masculinity and assertiveness.

To salvage the situation, the Queen Mother decrees that whoever (Nana Yaa or Kwaku Duah) gave birth to a male child first should become the next in line to Kwaku Duah.

Soon after the Queen Mother’s demise, the king, Nana Kwaku Duah, marries but unfortunately, his offspring is a girl. Similarly, Nana Yaa attempts childbirth, but luck does not favour her either. She misses the chance to have a male heir. However, she conceals the true gender of her child and raises her as a boy with the plan that she will be crowned king in the future.

Several years pass and it is time for Owusu Agemang to be prepared for the throne. Nana Yaa makes her aware of the plan and she too now must hold on to the secret that has been kept for years at all costs, particularly with the throne in sight.

With the stakes high and the secrets deep the performances are nothing short of exceptional.

The cast, a mix of seasoned talents and fresh faces, delivers performances that are as memorable as they are entertaining. This includes the likes of Akofa EdjeaniClemento SuarezJeneral NtatiaEdinam AtatsiHenry Agbai, and Emmanuel Ato Ghartey.

It was delightful to see ace actors like Akofa Edjeani and Edinam Atatsi, who interestingly reprised her role from the 2007 staging of this play.

Special mention must be made of Gadege Segbefia‘s portrayal of Nana Yaa‘s son, Owusu Agyemang. With a level of commitment that is truly commendable, Segbefia convincingly embodies the role, leaving the audience questioning if she is a man and not a woman. Her performance well nuanced proves that she certainly has a place in theatre and surely is a delight to watch. 

It is also commendable how well the ageing National Theatre stage was used to tell the story. With the events in the play set in multiple timelines and settings, the production cleverly utilized the stage to capture these distinct settings and timelines without any confusion.

Another aspect that contributed significantly to the advancement of the play and its themes was the use of sound effects. Several scenes were effectively elevated courtesy of the accompanying sound effects.

Comic actors, Jeneral Ntatia and Clemento Suarez, each had their moments to shine with their characters. They were precise and accurate with their witty jabs that referenced current situations and trends, which the audience could relate to and enjoy.

You find a reflection of many of our current issues as a people in this play. While you laugh, you are forced to rethink and take a stance.

But what truly sets this production apart is its ability to seamlessly blend humour with profound themes. Through witty dialogue and clever references to current events, the play offers a mirror to society, forcing audiences to laugh, reflect, and ultimately take a stance.

Yet, amidst the laughter and the applause, “In the Chest of a Woman” remains a celebration of womanhood in all its complexity. Efo Kodjo Mawugbe’s intention to capture the strength, resilience, and leadership potential of women is palpable throughout the play, serving as a powerful reminder of the need for societal change.

As the final curtain falls, leaving echoes of applause in its wake, I can’t help but reflect on the impact of this production. It’s not just entertainment, it’s a call to action, a plea for inclusivity, and a celebration of the human spirit.

For its masterful storytelling, impeccable performances, profound themes, and overall experience, “In the Chest of a Woman” earns a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars from me. It’s a theatrical experience that lingers long after the lights have dimmed, leaving audiences inspired, enlightened, and eager for more.

I am looking forward to more of these classics made fresh not just the entertainment but also the idea of introducing them to a young generation.

After experiencing the magic of this play, I can only hope that its reach extends far beyond the confines of Accra. It’s time for the resurgence in theatre to spread across Ghana, touching hearts and minds in every corner of the country. And with productions like this and the others we have seen in the last few years leading the way, the future of Ghanaian theatre looks brighter than ever before.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.


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