July 19, 2024
Review

James Henshaw’s enrapturing dynamism in ‘The Re-Education of Gina Obi’

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  • July 8, 2024
  • 3 min read
James Henshaw’s enrapturing dynamism in ‘The Re-Education of Gina Obi’

By Bukola Olowookere

BE ready for the unexpected’ would probably be an appropriate and necessary tagline to add to the plays’ title, The Re-Education of Gina Obi for the grace with which it pulled the rug off one’s feet at its recent virtual play reading to audiences everywhere. The delivery of suspense was so shockingly and satisfyingly on point even with the number of characters (just two) and the single setting of the play (just an office) but trust me, we all have to applaud the creativity of the playwright, James Henshaw Jnr. for his ability to display an enrapturing dynamism in the characters that manage to hold the audience spellbound from start to finish.

The Re-Education of Gina Obi tells the story of a young lady and a lecturer in Nigeria. The juxtaposition of these two characters offers an unexpected yet original point of view to the world to behold in both its chaos and beauty. The playwright not only succeeds in delivering well developed characters but also is able to create a refreshing take on opposing social classes that seem world apart in a country such as Nigeria – the educated and uneducated; the upper class and lower class; the cynic and the optimist and the outgoing and the reserved.

These two characters seem like the perfect polar opposites except for the one conclusion that we might all be prone to immediately draw when we think, ‘a young lady and an older man in a position of power’ – sexual relation. It comes as no shock that until the last scene, every encounter the two characters have is fraught with tension that is both comical and intriguing to watch. The ‘will they and won’t they’ angst. Whew!

Gina’s naivety is used as a great tool to explore Lecturer Ita’s cynicism that we quickly discover is nursed by this man who seems to have it all. Lecturer Ita’s disdain is no match for an exuberant character as Gina whose eagerness to squeeze every good out of life is endearingly contagious.

All in all, the play is a breath of fresh air as against ‘man meets girl. Girl uses her sexual guile on man and exploits man’s turbulent marital life. Man uses his position to get girl in bed. And then all the cards come falling down’. One might then pose the question whether or not the play is able to achieve verisimilitude as any good play should. Well, if love and friendship are verisimilitude, then you better believe that this play bleeds verisimilitude in torrential flow. The Re-Education of Gina Obi is a love story built on friendship, the kind that embraces disparity, forges a deep bond and becomes more meaningful than the familial bond.

* Olowookere, winner JEHF Playwriting Competition 2021, contributed this piece

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