My Father’s Fable | Bush Theatre ★★★★ | Until July 27, 2024

Daughter of African immigrants, Peace, discovers that she has a long-lost brother in Nigeria, and he's coming to visit. Her formidable mother, Favour, only barely tolerates her partner, Roy, so her reaction to the newcomer cannot be anticipated, while Peace is hoping to learn something about her roots and about herself. Playwright, Faith Omole, has created some fascinating and nuanced individuals who are faced with a situation in which characters will be revealed and secrets exposed. My Father's Fable is a thoughtful and amusing look at the dynamics of a family, but it also serves as a provocative commentary, almost an allegory, on the impacts of immigration. The spirit of Peace's deceased father, who made the fateful decision to leave Africa and take up a new life in Britain, hangs over the piece, but it is the presence of her mother who defines the daughter and her reality. This play could equally well have been titled My Mother's Manipulations. Favour, played by Rakie Ayola, may not be Medea, but she displays epic prowess when it comes to being passive-aggressive, and Ayola plays it to the hilt. She has the audience gasping at some of her zingers. As her easily manipulated daughter, Tiwa Lade, also gets it just right. The naïveté that allows her to invite a stranger into her home rings equally true when she acts as her mother's puppet. Her partner, Roy, played by Gabriel Akuwudike matches her nicely as the patient guy who usually goes along to get along. He manages to come across as both gentle and insightful. As the mysterious interloper into this complicated ménage, Theo Ogundipe has, perhaps, the most challenging role of the piece. His is possibly the most emblematic character, and it falls on him to convey to the audience the charm and appeal that the unknown past and Africa hold for Peace and Roy. It was unfortunate that it was not always possible to hear the voice of the father when his spirit came to the fore, but Faith Omole has written an entertaining and important work that offers insight into the human heart and the immigrant experience.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Manuel Harlan

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