Torn between conflicting worlds, caught between the lines of man and woman, straight and gay and Africa and Canada, Tawiah M’Carthy shares the heart-wrenching, yet at times whimsical, tale of Agyeman, a young man born and raised in Ghana who moves to Canada to study, work, live and ultimately end up imprisoned in The National Arts Centre English Theatre’s Production of Obaaberima.
Should you see it?
Obaaberima, which means “girlboy”, opens with Agyeman in a Canadian prison, setting the stage for what his life has become and then seamlessly jumping into the story of how he became the person he is today. The audience is transported back to Ghana where we grow with the young Agyeman who tries on his mother’s dress, who wants to feel beautiful, who wants to be loved. We laugh with his misadventures and feel the heartache when he’s taken advantage of or abused. We cheer for his victories and mourn his defeat. M’Carthy is a master at keeping the audience’s rapt attention from start to finish.
Writer and performer Tawiah M’Carthy (also of the 2014/15 NAC English Theatre Ensemble) owns the stage; every square inch of it. His presence demands attention and he gets it. The show is a mixture of drama, dance and music, and never slows down. Obaaberima is truly a bridging of cultures and identities with all the good and bad that come with it yet M’Carthy eases the audience through it without making any feelings of discomfort. In fact M’Carthy’s list of characters and performing techniques, coupled with the intense musical backings provided by Kobena Aquaa-Harrison makes this show a captivating one, where even if you can guess what direction the show is headed in, you’re still on the edge of your seat rooting for Agyeman to be true to himself and his identity.
The music is phenomenal. It truly makes the show. Without it the story of Agyeman wouldn’t have the flare and the dramatic buildup that it needed to be the epic one-man show that it was. Obaaberima is a heartfelt, touching and funny feat of strength that you definitely won’t regret seeing.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought. What did you think of Tawiah M’Carthy’s storytelling techniques? Would you recommend this for a friend? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.
Obaaberima runs at the National Arts Centre Studio Stage through March 14, 2015.