Theatre Review: ‘Namíbia, Não!’ by Aldri Anunciação
In the year 2021, the government of Brazil have announced that all those of African descent are to be repatriated back to the Motherland. It’s a white supremacist’s dream. Deportees are given a list of states from which to choose but have no choice over whether or not they go.
Two cousins with ‘high levels of melanin’, Antônio (Femi Oyeniran) and André (Anyebe Godwin) initially react in very different ways. Whilst André immediately grasps the gravity of the situation, Antônio remains bemusedly incredulous. That is, until he sees his concierge being arrested and watches a live broadcast of a beloved Afro-Brazilian TV personality being forcibly apprehended.
Under self-imposed house arrest, the cousins start to consider a Brazil without those who have shaped the country’s cultural identity. Antônio and André debate the merits of reparations, the socio-economic legacy of slavery and the accompanying injustices. They vacillate between dogged refusal to leave the land of their birth and resigning to the edict and the uncertainties of a new life.
Aldri Anunciação’s surreal socio-political dialectic ‘Namíbia, Não!’ is said to be the longest running two-hander play in Brazilian history. Translated and directed by erudite and multi-talented Brazilian actor Almiro Andrade, its Anglophone adaptation still has the tell-tale signs of a work-in-progress. The delivery is understandably rough around the edges. The narrative flow falters and attempts to impart relevant historical information are yet to be absorbed smoothly into the script.
Yet the piece is so conceptually rich, these are mere kinks to be ironed out in a future production. ‘Namíbia, Não!’ intelligently explores a vast array of issues with which all culturally displaced peoples could readily relate.
Written by Aldri Anunciação
Directed by Almiro Andrade
Assistant Director – Sian Davila
Set and Costume Design – Natalie Jackson
Sound Design/Composer – Xavior
Anyebe Godwin – André
Femi Oyeniran – Antônio