Review: Egusi Soup

Egusi Soup
Egusi Soup

A spicy comedy examining the complexities of a British-Nigerian family’s life engaged the audience at Bury Theatre Royal last night.

Egusi Soup had universal themes that all of us can relate to. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments that had the audience genuinely guffawing - that strange spontaneous laughter you hear on TV comedies with studio audiences.

Yes Janie Okah’s funny play had its moments and bags of emotion and big themes, such as sibling rivalry, jealousy, family secrets, old wounds, cross cultural conflict, grief and fear.There’s even a farcical sex scene to spice things up.

As the play opens we see widow Mrs Anyia packing for a trip to Lagos for the first annual memorial of her husband’s death. She struggles and gets the laugh as she tries to get a generator (do you want to sit in the dark?) and a host of strange objects into a suitcase overflowing with clothes. But like the suitcase, this play is perhaps piled a bit too high with themes and emotion.

The comedy scenes are halted for serious high drama and pathos which don’t always gel. There’s the black sheep prodigal daughter who missed her father’s funeral and comes home - she is criticised for becoming a barrister instead of marrying a nice Nigerian boy. Her sister has married a Nigerian man but wonders of this will last. And the pastor offers old fashioned advice and prayers, with suspect motives.

It’s the Nigerian Egusi soup which blends so many ingredients which helps to save the day for the family as they eat together.

The cast are accomplished and skillful, handling the more clunky moments well.

Overall it’s fun and worth a watch and is on at the Theatre Royal tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.