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Secrets of my Wanton's Love
Presented by Tropical ACCENT Productions

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Reviewed: 2005-07-25 00:52:32
Rated: 6 out of 10 [3 Stars]
By: John Chase (Director@winnipegonstage.com)

I'll be very honest: had I not been invited to Secrets of my Wanton's Love (as is the case with most of the Fringe shows I see), its official program description would not have enticed me, personally, to attend, simply because its subject matter is not something that I have a driving interest in. Seeing the show, I enjoyed it, and was by no means disappointed in its quality. However, it reinforced what can be gleaned from that same description: that it's a very ethnic production, and will only be fully appreciated by a much more specific target audience than your average Fringe show.

That aside, the play's cast of two actors (Arinze Eze, who is also the writer and director, and Sambath San) and two actresses (Lorraine James, Kerri-Lee Smith) all deliver good performances, leading to a consistent show with no real weak links to speak of. The multiple character creations of the various cast members were enjoyable to watch, and of particular interest is the fact that two are portraying a different ethnicity (Mr San is Asian and Ms Smith is Caucasian). I felt that Mr San nevertheless integrated into the show extremely well, but I could not suspend my disbelief far enough to view the ethnicity of Ms Smith's characters as anything but her own. I'm not certain if she can be criticised for that, however, as the script seemed to suggest a lighter skin colour as one factor in a curse placed upon her. I'll instead admit that I exited the theatre without having a full understanding of whether her very Caucasian (but otherwise very good) performance was an element of the show that was portrayed as it was with deliberate intention.

The only thing that really detracted from my enjoyment was the casually fast clip at which several of the performers spoke using accents, leading to many moments at which I had to really strain to understand the words being said -- and several occasions when I didn't succeed. (Well, I shouldn't say the only thing... I also couldn't believe the tube wrapped in tinfoil that was actually supposed to be, from what I could tell, a serious sword prop for a warrior character. To the performer's credit, he never wielded the prop as though it were anything but authentic; although honestly, the show would have been much better off just employing a wood sword if necessary.)

When I could understand the dialogue, I was impressed at the cleverness within the script, which is full of "metaphors, idioms, and proverbs, common with the Igbo tribe of present-day Nigeria" placed within the speeches and discussions of its characters. The script moves along at a steady clip and doesn't leave the audience bored for action, even though some of that action seems to occur very suddenly and leaves the audience to simply accept what they're seeing in the moment without much previous explanation. The use of music and dance to very creatively choreograph a fight scene is a highlight worth mentioning.

To summarise, I would say that Tropical ACCENT Productions has staged a very decent Fringe show for those interested in viewing a creative interpretation of Nigerian folktales.

John Chase
July 24, 2005

(Note: This production is part of the 2005 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Visit - http://www.winnipegfringe.com/ )

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