BWW Review: HOW WE LOVE, VAULT Festival
Same-sexual relationships of any kind are illegal in Nigeria. Legal and social action is taken to any member of the LGBTQ community, with death by stoning as maximum punishment. As the political climate heats up and the country becomes more and more dangerous, Babatunde is visiting his best friend Regina in South London.
As a gay man and a lesbian woman respectively, they both face criminal prosecution in their home state where their partners are both hiding out from the law. To stop the rumours that are circulating about them, they decide to get married to each other.
Annette Brook's new play how we love treats a thorny subject with humanity and care, and the playwright finds humour hidden between the cracks of fear and unfairness. The script is, however, stylistically all over the place. Excessive and unnecessary lyricism coexists with more grounded and realistic speech: while the former works well on paper and would potentially do so on stage, the comparison with the second and, more than anything, the seemingly random switches between the two alter the balance of the text.
Under Robbie Taylor Hunt's direction, the piece sees effective and creative scene changes and relatively good movement, but stumbles on cliché and overly done segments. Ewa Dina and Enoch Lwanga are the best friends, while Dr Paul T. Davies is Regina's elderly Jewish neighbour Rupert. The latter falls victim of the solemnity of the narration in the material, while the others give comparatively compelling deliveries.
Brook tackles a few thought-provoking ideas but rushes through them. The dynamic between Babs and Regi is interesting and the actors build it up with synergy and investing the audience in their decision, but the surrounding themes become hazy when the Holocaust and Rupert almost turns into the main topic. As it is, the play acts as an opening for a bigger exploration and certainly highlights a horrifying issue that's rarely spoken about. It just needs a slight refocus to hit the bullseye.