The king must dance naked

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Malthouse Press Limited, 1990 - Drama - 68 pages
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Reviewed by Nadia Anwar
The timeless narrator in a very humorous and satiric way delineates the story of King Omajuwa, who is in fact a woman, saved by her mother Odusun a long time ago. Acting
against an oracle that bids the sacrifice of the twin sister of the heir apparent, queen Odosun instead lets her son get sacrificed in her place. She also banishes the son of queen Lube, Omagbemi, who ironically forges an incestuous relationship later with her daughter and becomes Mejebi’s father. Mejebi reveals his mother’s reality and tries to take control of the throne.
The play is rich in metatheatrical elements such as the presence of the narrator, the chorus, role-playing, direct address to the audience etc. Within the context of traditional kingship system, the author has tried to develop a discourse on the democratic ideals flourishing in society. There is a clear tension between the oracular truth and freedom from the restrictions imposed by the conventional religion. The play draws upon the age long parasitic tendencies of religious figures and the ways they beguile all human emotions in the name of cosmic well being. However, the question remains; are human beings justified in their attempt to follow the oracles blindly? Isn’t there an implicit suggestion by the dramatist that in taking a proscribed step, some kind of calamity may happen to disrupt the normal flow of life? If that is the case then what should really be done? The King tried to save his heir apparent but lost him forever. Although, queen Odusun saved her daughter, she lost her son as a result. Her daughter saved her throne but she lost her identity in doing so. In the end there is an acceptance of the personal deeds/actions on the part of the she-king along with another rift that arises as a consequence of this acceptance; whether to elect a rogue or a bastard, who is a product of an incestuous relationship? The responsibility of selection lies on the public now.

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