As we all settle down, the hall goes quiet and the stage lights come on. Deju comes on stage with his acoustic guitar in one hand and a bottle of alcohol in the other. I didn’t need to see the bottle in his hand to know that he was drunk though, thanks to his staggering. As he settles down waiting for his band members to arrive for rehearsals, I kinda knew I was in for a show.
I’d say this upfront so I do not offend the lovers of the art of stage play reviewing. This was my first time at a stage play, so pardon me if I do not do justice as I would have with a movie review.
Insomniacs is a stage musical about the members of a band, The Insomniacs, their quest for fame, and most importantly, a love triangle between three members of the band. The bond everyone has seems inseparable as they gear up for their big break until an accident occurs which messes everything up. No thanks to Deju’s recklessness. Years later, they have to set aside their differences for a bigger goal.
One thing that made Insomniacs a great first time experience for me was the mode of delivery, which was the musical performances. The play touched on several issues and it was hard to separate the medical doctor in first time playwright Hafeez Oluwa from the artist. In the end, I was both educated and entertained richly.
The play kicks off as a comedy with everyone having a swell time together, then brilliantly launches the musical performances (of well-chosen songs for the scenes by the way) of the band with beautiful covers of popular songs such as Jailer by Asa, Runaway by Style Plus, So Faraway by Staind and many others. Then comes the accident which kicks off the second act of the play. Hafeez Oluwa does a great job in writing a story which combines humor and tragedy held together by musical performances well. Unlike my experience with Nigerian musicals where the singing are mostly disappointing it took a stage play where there was no “T-Paining” going on to have impressed me the most.
In terms of bringing the story to life, kudos to the director, Kayode Sodunke who does a nice job of coordinating the stars of The Insomniacs – Ada, Deju, Lolo, Eric and Emeka.
The team probably thought about how to execute a couple of scenes where they would have required being out of the theater and chose to play footages for those scenes. The first I found a bit hard to take in as it was obviously an accident that didn’t even happen on a Nigerian road. I do understand that this can be quite difficult to achieve but a simple voice over and some sound effects could have worked better I guess. Second scene was simply a video recording with no audio. That reduced the realism and would have been nice to have the audio of their conversations in the scene played for the audience. Both of this will have given a more realistic and believable delivery.
The star of Insomniacs for me was Eric, the drummer who couldn’t stop cracking the ribs of the audiences. He was hilarious and his acting was outstanding. Peace ‘Bubu’ Adetola also put up an impressive performance and I must say, I look forward to seeing more of her not only in stage plays, but also on the big screen. Deju does try his best but seemed to have been overshadowed by Bubu and Eric. Lolo put in his best, but needs to work more on his facial expressions as they were quite limited and his role required a lot of dynamism.
Regardless of the flaws, Insomniacs was a great first time experience for me. I found it satisfying and creative and I definitely would love to see more works by this team. You can still catch the play on the last Sunday of July at Lekki Waterside Hotel.
The play earns a Popcorn and Soda from us here at Sodas & Popcorn.
If you have seen it, feel free to share your opinion below.
Review written by Awojide Olumuyiwa Sylvester