Jollof Wars, Vault Festival

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Who does Jollof rice better? Ghana or Nigeria ? Gail Egbeson’s play of culture wars in a relationship is based around this very loose premise.

It is hard to get an hour long play about this and Egbeson fails to achieve it. In this disjointed play of two halves it starts well with the male characters discussing love, food and Fifa as they argue not just about Nigerian and Ghanian cuisine but also the delights of Jamaican food.

In this large cast of eight it struggles to find its pursose. Is it a romantic drama about a man of Ghanian descent (Maximus Morgan) and a woman of Nigerian descent (Steffi Igbinovia) merging their cultures successfully in spite of their friends romantic entanglements or is about her mother (Stephanie Stevens) wanting to make their impending wedding about her.

The decision to have the second half as a court case makes sense when you realise this was originally written for schools but in a play with an adult audience it feels immature and clumsy. It is disappointing that Egbeson and director Lucy Dear didn’t adapt this to a more adult audience. It is a shame that this concept and unashamed look at these West African neighbour’s culinary war isn’t better developed. The performances often feel like they are in different plays, it isn’t sure if it wants to be wacky comedy or a witty look at relationships.

Jollof Wars was on between 14-16 February 2020 at the Vault Festival

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