Audiences want not be steeped in know-how of Nigerian lifestyle to respect Spherical House Theatre’s uproariously humorous regional premiere of Jocelyn Bioh’s Nollywood Dreams (★★★★☆). But it can help to know that, while Nigeria’s strong movie field, typically referred to as Nollywood, rivals world wide leaders Hollywood and Bollywood in sheer quantity of output and recognition, the films them selves often exude a certain low-budget cheesiness that’s ripe for parody.
The spirited company, directed by Raymond O. Caldwell, plucks an abundance of comedic fruit from those vines, spoofing the Nollywood aesthetic and weaving the sweet tale of two sisters in ’90s Lagos who desire of meeting movie stars.
Basically, Dede (Renea S. Brown) fantasizes about romancing her most loved display hunk, Wale Owusu (Joel Ashur), even though young sister Ayamma (Ernaisja Curry) goals of sharing the screen with him. They each toil — or, somewhat, cling out and enjoy Television — at the journey company owned by their usually-touring dad and mom, but Ayamma believes she’s been known as to be an actress. The only difficulty with that, as Dede helpfully points out, is that Ayamma is a terrible actress.
To the production’s credit history, and the audience’s delight, Curry is definitely fantastic at performing the aspect of a awful actress. Ayamma’s severe overacting delivers to head Carol Burnett doing Norma Desmond, but Ayamma is dead-really serious about her craft — which is the joke, and a reliably humorous just one, at that.
Nevertheless, her histrionic gestures and inflections might beautifully accommodate the style of esteemed neighborhood filmmaker Gbenga Ezie (Yao Dogbe), who’s keeping open auditions for a element in his hottest opus, about Consolation, a lady scorned. Titled, naturally, The Convenience Zone, the movie is established to star none other than Wale Owusu, so, of system, Ayamma sets her sights on the job.
It’s an uncomplicated, breezy setup by Ghanaian author Bioh, whose debut work School Ladies: Or, the African Indicate Women Perform was a hit for Spherical Dwelling last year. Below, she elevates a easy breaking-into-showbiz story with her successful comic voice, astute cultural specificity, and an alluring whiff of romance. When Ayamma lastly fulfills Wale Owusu — not remotely in the way she imagined she may well — sparks fly promptly involving the two. The passionate chemistry amongst Curry and Ashur, playing an impossibly sleek but sincere superstar, is off the charts.
In a comparable but markedly various style, the sibling chemistry amongst Curry’s starry-eyed Ayammma and Brown’s more grounded sister Dede anchors the show. Each and every solid member grabs the spotlight for at the very least a second or two, and none additional wholeheartedly and amusingly than Jacqueline Youm, participating in converse present host Adenikeh, the Oprah of Nigerian Tv set.
Frequently, scenic designer Jonathan Dahm Robertson’s journey company established spins all over on the phase turntable to reveal the set of The Adenikeh Demonstrate, in which the effusive host grills attendees like Wale, Gbenga, and Fayola Ogunleye (Yetunde Felix-Ukwu), Ayamma’s film star rival for the function of Comfort.
Competitiveness in excess of the part of Comfort and ease drives the enjoy ahead — even though Caldwell’s pacing, like that turntable on opening night, stalls at instances. And, in spite of producing a evaluate of suspense all over the ultimate result, the manufacturing doesn’t gracefully achieve a climax, but instead just slams into an ending. Subsequent a final scene that does not play or experience like a final scene, the turntable out of the blue spins ideal into the forged dancing their curtain phone calls.
The lighthearted vacation to Lagos may well conclude unexpectedly, but it nevertheless provides uplift and inspiration in the variety of a rags-to-riches rise filtered through the vibrant humanity of these Nollywood dreamers.
Nollywood Dreams operates through July 3 at the Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Freeway, in Bethesda, Md. Tickets are $41 to $56. Call 240-644-1100, or take a look at www.roundhousetheatre.org.