Esther's Revenge, written and directed by Kenneth Uphopho, is a thought-provoking interactive play that brings awareness to the various injustices that plague women.
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Esther is a prisoner charged with the murder of her White "boyfriend." An audience of jurors played by randomly selected audience members will hear Esther's story one last time to determine her sentence, which in Nigeria, in this circumstance, is death by hanging.
Esther, played by Bolanle Temitope Stephen-Atitebi, came out crying and scared. She tells the audience that she is being held in a new location of the prison, which she describes as being worse. No one is allowed to visit her, and she is rarely allowed to go out to get sun. Bolanle Temitope Stephen-Atitebi's performance is powerful and heartfelt. She embodies the pain and suffering of a woman on the verge of being executed. She is stellar!
She narrates how she met her partner. Seemingly, their story appears innocent and loving. She falls in love with him and then he disappears. His absence cements the demise of their relationship. He eventually returns, and she learns the reality of their situation, which is riddled with deception and ungenuine sentiments. The relationship and aspirations she had for forming a family with her White lover were false. In fact, he was more so a predator than a boyfriend. This is evident in the event that leads to her imprisonment. He crosses the line and she is forced to fend for herself.
The jury is tasked with condemning her to death or letting her go free. The jurors brought on stage had five minutes to discuss and then deliberate. During the Q&A after the deliberation, the audience learned that the decision often varies depending on geographic location and audience members. This section was very engaging and interesting to hear.
Esther's Revenge is an impactful play that allows audiences to consider ethics, legal repercussions and cultural ideologies.
Esther’s Revenge is playing at the SoHo Playhouse until January 19- try to see it before it leaves!
Performed by Bolanle Temitope Stephen-Atitebi
Written and directed by Kenneth Uphopho
Produced by Tope Sanni for PawStudios Africa
January 6 - January 19, 2024
SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam St. NYC)
Yani Perez, M.F.A, is a poet, playwright, translator, and educator. Her plays have been presented in various theaters in the United States such as La Mama and Yale University as well as internationally in Bogotá, Colombia. She works at IATI Theater, one of the oldest Latinx theaters in NYC. She is currently working on translations of Latinx artists in hopes of introducing them to English-speaking audiences.