It’s not the usual destination for vivid musicals you have now entered the Shrine; concert hall and home of Nigerian political activist and pioneer of afrobeat, Fela Kuti.
The show opens with an upbeat Fela welcoming the audience with a resounding ‘everybody say yeah-yeah’, and replies are expected, the constant interaction with the audience aids the transportation into his world of beat and political unrest.
Set on the last night of his performance in the Shrine, Fela! is a musical biography, following his journey as an artist and his constant battle with the aftermath of colonialism and Nigeria’s corrupt government. Performances of songs such as Zombie, which ridicule the stupidity and mindless violence of the soldiers of Nigeria’s military coup, were a sensational hit across Africa and the world over however; they frequently landed him in prison.
The beauty of Fela! is the natural flow from the provocative and undulating movement of his female and male dancers, who will have you wiggling in your seat, to the poignant scenes of Fela! lamenting the death of his mother, a feminist and activist in her own right, at the hands of an irate and ever embarrassed government.
Musically and visually irresistible, Fela! boldly embraces the controversial and is a sensational portrayal of his life, music and campaign against social injustice; a fitting tribute to Nigeria’s original Black Power Man.
National Theatre, Olivier Halls
Choreography: Bill T Jones
Words by Melody David