One of the hottest tickets at the Lagos Theatre Festival this year was the returning, Still Single in Gidi, the follow up to the word of mouth hit, Single in Gidi which was first staged in 2015 at the Terra Kulture.
Both Single in Gidi, and its follow up, were adapted from the blog of the same title created by Sheila Ojei. One which usually featured irreverent posts about living single and working in the city of Lagos.
Still Single in Gidi, presented by S&S Creative Media and directed by Shirley-Urhobo Enebong, played at the Agip Hall of the Muson Centre on the second and third of March. The production does not differ markedly from its source material as it centers itself around lampooning a young, attractive cast of characters, navigating the treacherous waters of the contemporary dating scene.
Some of the original cast members (Timi Charles Fadipe, Austin Onuoha) make a return and Still Single in Gidi finds a way to link the plot, such as it were, with its predecessor. However this revival is obviously more concerned with tackling more of-the-moment issues, concerns that are ripped straight from social media trending topics.
The young man at the center of the action this time, is Richie (Ojukokoro’s Charles Etubiebi), a hardworking, everyday fella who has just proposed to his girlfriend. Richie, like many Nigerian men assumes that because he is the one who goes down on his knee and produces a ring, he is really in control of the situation. It turns out he has been expertly played and manipulated by his fiancée, a rich, daddy’s girl type who upon deciding that Richie could make a decent husband, sets about making it a reality.
Director and co-writer, Enebong opts out of making use of a linear narrative technique to unspool the drama that she has pre-packaged, and makes use of monologues and offhand stream of consciousness ruminations. Everyone it seems has an agenda and the over the top bickering and clawing that the characters engage in are all in service of fulfilling society’s laid down expectations.
The pressure to settle down once young adults approach a certain age leads to so much strife and Still Single in Gidi traces everyone’s complicity. From the boys who are socialized to go about collecting jars of hearts in the name of sowing wild oats, to the ladies who are conditioned to start hearing their biological clocks ticking as they get older, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Don’t forget the Lagos mothers who manipulate their sons emotionally and raise their daughters to place their worth in terms of their ability to find a man to marry, and the cycle of commercial enterprises that have sprung up around the simple, seemingly uncomplicated occasion of two people deciding to spend the rest of their lives together.
The cast is mostly solid but it is tough work, attempting to stand out in a production that favors trendy jokes and snappy comebacks over meticulous character development. Rita Edwards, as the mother to Fadipe’s rascally ‘’Yoruba demon’’, Tunji, however, just about steals the show with her lived in, relatable, yet over the top knock off of every Nigerian mother stereotype.
The writing in Still Single in Gidi is laugh out loud humorous and the actors deliver their lines with relish. The production is a bit too obvious as it plays at times like an aggregation of every hashtag, trending topic and cliché owned by millennials. But there is a certain charm to the kinetic energy diffusing in various, scattershot angles. Still Single in Gidi may not wow audiences looking for the next Nigerian classic but perhaps that is the whole point to it. It is thoroughly of its time and should do just fine as a commercial, feel good entry. As long as there are regular updates and revivals to keep up with the changing times.