A Review of ‘Back for Ground’
A play by Sabi Productions and written by Ibi Kontein.
This play is a strong piece on what people expected to look out for us do instead. It is well-written play about a scenario that can be seen every day but still has a number of things to learn from. I saw the very first showing.
A short summary; The protagonist is a young newly retired sex worker Ijeoma and she has gone to the church to find solace. The pastor and his wife take her in and promise to send her to school in return for house labor. During her time at the church, she falls in love with the handsome Akan. I remember Akan wowing the audience, myself included.
The play takes a tearing turn when we find out that the pastor has been forcing Ijeoma to sleep with him in exchange for all the privileges she enjoys in their home. It only gets worse for the pastor when his failing marriage and cruelty toward his wife are revealed. In the end, Ijeoma finds her strength and against all odds, she and Akan choose to be together.
The allure of this play stretches from the location to the lights. The cast was terrific. Sabi productions definitely knows how to choose them. Ijeoma is portrayed by Mercy Johnson and Akan the fine boy by Jules Omonizua. The rest of the cast is superb as well.
What stood out for me in this play was the accurate portrayal of emotions and the humanity of the characters. Ijeoma has a number of monologues during the play including a longer version of the title; “Money for hand, back for ground”
During her monologues, I wanted to reach out and hold her because I could see how much she tried to escape a life where everyone had the upper hand except her. Everyone had concluded the kind of life she was supposed to live regardless of her choices. The hesitation to trust love because she was not sure if it was strong enough to hold her.
The play had firm emotions, touched very grey areas and was infused with belly-shaking humor. The stuff that good writing is made of. I hear that there was colorful commentary during that first showing and I heard that because I made half of them. The play was cozy and so close that you could almost touch it or have it touch you. I applaud Ibi not just as a longtime friend but also as a brilliant writer who was in her bag with this work. This is the second of her plays I have seen and I would really be thrilled to see more of her work with all those wonderful lights.