Inua Ellams’ is known best for his smash-hit The Barber Shop Chronicles, which London can see again at the Roundhouse from mid-July, but this new show—The Half God of Rainfall—is a return to an earlier storytelling style. It draws on old myths and creates new ones in 80 minutes. It is an intercultural head to head that playfully tumbles Greek and Yoruba gods together, offers some sly observations about the relationship of the West and Africa, but most powerfully shows what happens when a woman refuses to be subsumed into the patriarchal narratives of existing myth—either Greek or Yoruba—and creates her own story. This is storytelling theatre at its simplest played out on a spare design by Max Johns that matches the pared back poetic austerity of Ellams’ writing but delivers at the moment when it is needed. Tanuja Amarasuriya’s sound design is a thing of beauty - and it’s a pleasure watching Rakie Ayola’s glorious, fired up Modupe finding her power, giving an old story a good shake and smashing it apart to right the injustice of the past and create a new future, one free from the old myths.
The myths of Yoruba and Ancient Greece are tumbled together in this lyrical piece of storytelling that explores masculinity, power and colonialism. Critics and users alike have heaps of praise for the performances in this beautiful piece of theatre.
Modupe, cursed with extraordinary beauty, draws the unwanted attention of the Greek and Yoruba gods. Her son Demi, half Nigerian-mortal, half Olympian child, is bestowed with powers; one of them manifests in the game of basketball. When he unknowingly sparks Zeus’ wrath, Modupe tries to protect him from the capricious whims of the gods. Inua Ellams (The Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre; An Evening With An Immigrant) writes this contemporary saga that weaves poetry with storytelling in a majestic, chaotic journey across mythologies that transports us from a tiny village in Southern Nigeria to the further reaches of our galaxy and beyond.