When a play announces itself with a title as audacious as 3Some, it demands instant attention.
When promotional posters of the play feature the words, ‘a provocative play’ scrawled across a woman’s very naked torso, skeptics who roll their eyes at the obviousness of the packaging should be allowed their hesitation. Not everyone is a fan of gimmicky theatre.
But writer/director Jude Idada has a responsibility to put bums on seats. And with a reputation already earned on Facebook, from posts that often tease the line between edgy and outrageous, it behooves him to give the people what they want. He has his audience and their thirst needs to be slaked.
Come to 3Some for the promise of provocation. And by all means, sit through a character typing out her deepest need to be dominated on the internet, adults yelling dirty words like ‘’bitch’’ and ‘’whore’’ and a lengthy masturbation exercise featuring an extra clad in nothing but gold paint. But stay for the writing which occasionally aspires to something sublime, and the unflinching psychosexual explorations into the human condition.
Like the title suggests, 3Some presented by Creoternity Theatre and staged at the Amphitheatre, Freedom Park, on the fringe of the Lagos Theatre Festival, is written as a character study of three principals, a close knit family made up of a man, his wife and her mother. Dayo Doherty (Etim Effiong) is a workaholic, uptight, church going young man who has ignored his young, beautiful and sexually adventurous wife for far too long.
The Dohertys have been married for about three years but Dayo hasn’t been forthcoming when it comes to pleasuring his wife. Frustrated, Chioma (an agreeable Uzor Osimkpa) finds for herself, a sophisticated lover who is willing to indulge her taste for the wild side. She is introduced in one of their chatting sessions where she is going on excitedly about the dirty things she wants done to her.
Dayo stumbles on the exhibit from one of these sessions and all hell breaks loose. In keeping with his cowardly nature, Dayo chooses to shy away from dealing with the root causology of Chioma’s actions, fearing his own indictment. He summons his unconventional mother-in-law, Asmau (Frances Bickersteth, the weakest of the three actors) to set her daughter on the straight and narrow but unwittingly opens up a Pandora’s box of sexual frustrations, repressed feelings and unrequited love.
While Chioma moves out of her home to pursue her wild thoughts to a logical conclusion, Asmau moves in to prevent another woman from latching on, to reap where she hasn’t sown. With her experience as a medical practitioner, she attempts to help Dayo work through his knotty hang ups only to end up awakening a sleeping beast.
With the names of his lead characters coming from the three major ethnic groups, Idada suggests that beyond the titillation, he may have one or two things to say about the present state of sexual relations amongst Nigerians. Idada’s grasp on sexuality is tight and when he finds a way to filter his thoughts properly- human sexuality through a socio-religious lens- before putting them out, 3Some rises to admirable heights but this is constantly undercut by lengthy scenes that are heavy on surplus dialogue and stay on past their welcome.
Idada gives his female characters free rein to explore their sexuality without necessarily punishing them for it and while this might be considered progressive, Chioma, despite Osimkpa’s best intentions, cannot rise beyond the limitations of Idada’s male gaze. She is the male writer’s imagination of the Madonna/whore dichotomy come to stage and brings little insight to the discussion at stake. The mother, Asmau with all of her contradictions, is a more interesting character and in the hands of a more capable actress could be more effective in posing more of a challenge for Dayo.
Dayo is of course, the character whom Idada understands the most (no surprise!) and who goes through the most striking transition and Effiong is able to convey this credibly. He starts out as a mousy, uptight bore but by the end of the production, he has discovered himself completely in more ways than one. 3Some is really his show as it details his sexual awakening and contrasts it with his emotional suppression.
3Some is a welcome addition to the field of gender studies. It has its progressive elements but the male gaze is still front and center.
Pictures were taken by Ifeoluwa Nihinlola