Reviews

The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey Oh!

A MODERN NIGERIAN PLAY ADAPTATION OF CHAUCER’S CLASSIC

PRODUCED BY OVERO PRODUCTIONS

“Chaucer’s bawdy Canterbury Tales are famous for showing that 14th century people were essentially the same as 21st century people. So I was interested when I saw that Overo, a Nigerian company, were performing an updated production which had been relocated to modern day Nigeria. The change in time and place worked very well and The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey Oh! certainly captured the lively spirit of the original. This is an energetic and faithful reworking, that thoroughly entertained me. As far as the Canterbury Tales go, The Miller’s Taleis one of the more earthy stories, as told by the drunk miller to a group of people who are on their way to a religious retreat – rather than a pilgrimage – and are trying to impress the retreat’s owner to win a free stay. The tale that he tells involves the time-old story of the young and very attractive wife of an old carpenter, who is able to outwit her husband – hence ‘wahala’, which is explained as meaning trouble. Not surprisingly she plots with her lover, a student, how she can trick her. husband into giving them time alone. Meanwhile another student also declares his love for her and the plot becomes a farce.There’s an effort to emphasise the modern setting, with references to The Lord of the Rings and an attempt at moon-walking. I particularly enjoyed the moment when one of the students tried to serenade the miller’s wife by rapping outside her window, and got the audience to provide a beat.”  Read more>>
****  

Fringeguru.Com by Jane Bristow
“The cast explode onto the stage in a glorious burst of energy and colour and maintain their focus and physicality throughout this re-telling of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale relocated to modern day Nigeria. All the familiar elements are here: the cuckolded husband and the unfaithful young wife but thrown into the mix are superstition, witchcraft and the class divide. Writer Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo cleverly employs the Nigerian folk tradition of storytelling through music, dance, drums and most of all gossip. The small cast of six are commanding, their use of movement and voice keep the audience engaged throughout, but the biggest delight here is hearing the richness and lyricism of the Pidgin English, spoken by the supposedly uneducated, juxtaposed with the Queen’s English spoken by the elite. This is best heard from the characters Rabiu and Julie, two loyal servants thrown together by a mutual hatred of their jobs, whose incessant gossip, provides a clever device through which we are able to find out background information and off-stage events as well as providing moments of linguistic comedy”  Read more>>
****  

Thepublicreviews.Com & Glasgowtheatreblog.blogspot.co.uk by Lauren Humphreys
“Wahala Dey Oh” is a must for anyone who has ever studied Chaucer (and perhaps found him a little hard going). Similarly anyone who has ever lived or worked in West Africa will delight in the natural acting which epitomises the vitality and exuberance of West African culture. I took along a friend who had lived in Nigeria as boy and man and he not only understood every word but was captivatingly taken back to his childhood. “Wahala” will also entertain any theatre goer in search of an amusing tale told with expressive vigour. Some of the acting, alone, is every bit as good as that one can experience at most provincial theatres and, indeed, at some London venues. A real treat if you want something a little bit out of the ordinary. The author is hoping to take a full-length version around the country. See this abridged version while it runs for the full length of the Edinburgh Festival; this is a gem which should not be missed”  Read more>>
****  

Allvoice.Com & Primarytimes.Com by Stephen Archer
“The play brings together every nuance of emotion, climaxing in interrupted midnight passion, spurned love and grievous bodily harm, which results in mayhem and endless gossip. Overo Productions’ lively reinterpretation of The Miller’s Tale is a testimony to Chaucer’s greatness in capturing the enduring complex and fragile human-conditions of fear, envy, love, betrayal, revenge, hope – and our incessant need for hot gossip!” Read more>>
****  

Allvoice.Com by WebTV_Ebc1
“Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is often cited as the beginning, not only of ‘modern’ English Literature and as the legitimation of the vernacular language. This version of one of those tales, by the exuberant Overo Theatre Company, puts the very discussion of the power of language at the heart of its production.The Miller’s Tale is familiar Chaucer territory, dealing as it does with an old man married to a much younger woman and the shenanigans that occur when more attractive, younger men attempt to seduce her. Transferred from poetic page to stage, it is close to modern farce in style, involving as it does mistaken identity, disguise, and people hiding in boats to escape the Second Flood! Adapted by Ufuoma Overo-Tarim, the story is told with verve and not a little ingenuity, using a bare minimum of props on a basically empty stage. The tale does seem to transfer effortlessly to Nigeria. Most of the acting is strong, though several different styles are used, from the large and frankly over the top, to more subtle and naturalistic. One of the themes of Overo-Tarim’s adaptation is the power of language to pass on stories to the ordinary person, be that Middle English or Nigerian patois, and the way language is used to define social class. Sometimes it is a little hard to understand what is being said, but the company’s physicality’s make up for this.” Read more>>
***  

Broadwaybaby.Com by Robin T. Barton
“Ebullient, exuberant and bursting with energy, the cast of The Miller’s Tale fills its stage from the start and transports you to a world of colour, noise and nefarious goings on. Transplanting Chaucer’s age-old tale of the cuckold husband and his adulterous wife into modern-day Nigeria, they draw their audience in from the start and make you feel intrinsically involved in their story. The venue is one of the larger theatres and the audience was small – yet still, without missing a beat, without letting the buzz drop for a second, they spoke to us, performed for us and hooked us in.As a cast they are very physically competent – not simply in the dancing interludes (which are only top and tail details), but even just in moving across the stage, interacting with each other, presenting themselves to the audience to deliver a monologue. It is a joy to watch actors so thoroughly command their space – and if the pace of the narrative didn’t quite maintain its momentum all the way to the end, as performers they could not be faulted for the sheer force they brought to the space” Read more>>  

Ayoungertheatre.Com by Sarah Sharp
“A slice of Chaucer’s classic Canterbury Tales is transposed to modern day Nigeria and invested with drums, colour and warmth in Wahala Dey Oh! and there’s even a smattering of witchcraft and superstition in place of old-fashioned prophecy. Besides the bones of the story – a cantankerous old carpenter cuckolded by a live-in student and another wooer embarrassed in amusingly indecent fashion by the adulterous pair – this production admirably preserves the bawdiness of the Father of English Literature’s original. There are dirty magazines, nudges, winks and lots of smutty humour that is joyfully shared with whoops and shrieks in Pidgin. It’s great fun and highly infectious” Read more>>  

Playstosee.Com by Guy M. Taylor
“This energetic update of Chaucer’s tale of an adulterous couple getting their comeuppance is performed with charm and vivacity by its Nigerian cast. Transplanted to modern-day Nigeria, Ufuoma Overo-Tarim’s adaptation works incredibly well; Chaucer’s characters chime with the contemporary African setting and the right balance is struck between bawdiness and wit. The cultural value of story-telling and the use of language as a class marker are very much at the forefront of the piece, with Pidgin English juxtaposed with the English of the educated class. The production also examines the role of superstition in modern African society – in fact it crams in an awful lot of social commentary while remaining fairly faithful to the source material.Bookended by colourful dance sequences, the production has charm in abundance – there’s something wonderfully good natured and uplifting about the piece – and provides an intriguing glimpse of different performance tradition with its own particular vocabulary, transporting its audience in the process…” Read more>>  

Ed.thestage.Co.Uk by Natasha Tripney
“Having watched a lot of comedy in the early part of the week it was time to look for some unusual drama. And shows don’t come much odder than a Nigerian version of Geoffrey Chaucer’s ” The Miller’s Tale”, from his epic “The Canterbury Tales”.Classic drama transcends time and culture and, amazingly, this unlikely mix works incredibly well. African theatre is generally lively and their natural exuberance perfectly fits this 14th century morality tale of laziness, infidelity, the perils of marrying a young wife etc. This isn’t a production where you can hear every word but this doesn’t matter. You can easily follow the plot and most importantly, get carried away with the liveliness of the performers.It disappoints me that each year people increasingly feel Edinburgh is just a comedy festival. This was a highly enjoyable show with 8 in the cast and (on the day I went) just 12 in the audience. So, if people want to experience something different to generic stand-up and experience what the real fringe festival is about head to C on Chambers street.PS. I would love to see Overo Productions tackle another of Chaucer’s tales next year. (DC & AC)“.  


Darkchat.Moonfruit.Com  by Darkchat Members
“Another adaption came from Overo Productions, Nigeria, in The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey Oh!, a reworked version of Chaucer’s classic set in modern Nigeria. A colourfully-costumed and talented cast sing, dance, joke and act while telling the story of the young and attractive wife of an old carpenter, who outwits her husband leading to his demise. The play is full of Wahala(trouble), and the use of pidgin English is cleverly juxtaposed with the English of the elite, which, along superstition and juju, highlight the main themes of the piece.” Read more>>  


Thinkafricapress.Com by Graig Halliday
“Managed to catch some of the South African season with Mama Africa and The Millers Tale, Wahala Dey Oh which Isla was performing in. Chaucer’s tale in a Nigerian setting. Very interesting and Ufuoma was a lovely woman whose determination to bring the show here was incredible. Despite all the odds….she made it! ” Read more>>  

Tototales.Co.UK by Maram
“Finally in this first round up of Fringe specials, a Nigerian version of Chaucer’s the Miller’s Tale – Wahala Dey Oh! at C Venues captures all the bawdy fun of the original and couples it to the African ebullience, colour, movement and music.Adapter Ufuoma Overo-Tarmo has married the original tale – largely now the province of academia – to the Africans’ contemporary determination to enjoy life against all the odds, with no security, no electricity. Chaucer would approve” Read more>>  


Summerhall.Co.Uk & Morning Star by Gordon Parsons