Wild Shrews, in association with Southwark Playhouse, present
Anansi: An African Fairy Tale
by Lisa Cagnacci
‘High on lively, crystal-clear story telling… the songs are a quirkily pleasant surprise… hauntingly beautiful… makes you forget the freezing night air’ The Telegraph
An all-round engaging cast… Southwark Playhouse’s brand is as quirky as it is classy… resonance as well as simplicity and humour to satisfy both adults and children’ The Stage
‘Lively performances packed with personality… a burst of tropical sunshine’ British Theatre Guide
‘deliciously clean, clear and a blessed relief from all the celebrity-laden panto… ‘a huge hearted production’ METRO
The people on earth need stories.
Their lives are empty.
They need stories to make them laugh, and think, and stories to inspire them and give them hope and stories to warn them of danger.
And they need to be able to share their own stories…
Once upon a time in a rural village in Ghana, Nyame, the powerful Sky God steals all the stories and locks them up in a wooden box under his bed, leaving the inhabitants of the village with nothing.
Everyone has lost all hope of getting them back until bold Anansi takes on the perilous task of confronting the Sky God.
In this lively alternative to the traditional Christmas show, everything hinges on the completion of an impossible quest, forcing a small but brave spider to confront her uncertainties and find hope in the most unexpected of places.
This brand new play, based on research into traditional West African and Caribbean folklore, explores the joyous creative power of story-telling. A vividly textured and timely festive offering, it will delight seasoned theatre goers and family audiences alike.
FOR ALL THE FAMILY AGED 6 AND UP.
Anansi: An African Fairy Tale is directed by Southwark Playhouse’s Artistic Associate, Lisa Cagnacci, with Ashanti-inspired design by Mike Lees. It features original music by South African composer Timon Wapenaar, here making his London debut, and choreography by Tamsin Fessey of critically acclaimed physical theatre company Angel Exit
Amma / Mmoatia
Vipro / Osebo
Seven Unsuitable Suitors / Rock Python
Nyame the Sky God
Andy Serkis (voice)
The Daily Telegraph
If you fancy a warm, summery alternative to all the pantomimic thigh slapping and cross-dressing this Christmas, you could do much worse than this African fairy-tale at the Southwark Playhouse. Drawing on a host of African folk stories sourced by writer-director Lisa Cagnacci, it’s a simple show, short on traditional hocus-pocus and onstage pyrotechnics, and high on lively, crystal-clear storytelling, however much the plot twists and turns.
At the heart of this uplifting vision of Africa is Anansi the girl-spider, who manages to outwit Nyame the Sky God with her wit, cunning and intelligence. A bright, simple set, transports us into the jungle, with tales of men-shaped snakes, fairies, leopards with terrible teeth, and killer bees. The songs are a quirkily pleasant surprise – hauntingly beautiful and performed well by the cast of five – and the dancing is terrific too.
There are a lot of stories crammed into this production (indeed, its slightly quaint message is that stories can solve all the world’s issues), and at two hours long it isn’t exactly snappy, but its unfussy charm wins over. Anansi’s warmth and energy immediately make you forget the freezing night air, and there’s not a jingle bell in sight – really quite refreshing.
Slaves transported from Africa to the Caribbean took little with them. What they did have was stories – or riches indeed, in the hands of writer-director Lisa Cagnacci.
Working from the premise many living in Southwark have Afro-Caribbean backgrounds and that Southwark Playhouse’s brand is as quirky as it is classy, Cagnacci delved into traditional stories that straddle continents to research her Christmas show.
The result has resonance as well as simplicity and playful humour to satisfy both adults and children. Original music by Timon Wapenaar helps to ensure an effortless flow and implicitly makes the point that human happiness depends on music as well as narrative.
An all-round engaging cast is led by Anniwaa Buachie as Anansi, a spider whose resourcefulness extends far beyond web-weaving.
As she sets about a series of supposedly impossible tasks, her human best friend Akua (Vanessa Sampson) tackles the comparable challenge of meeting Mr Right under the endearingly fussy watch of Lynette Clarke as her mother.
Toussaint Meghie plays a pair of charming villains and Msimisi Affolderbach-Diamini takes on the roles of seven unsuitable suitors in breathless succession.