Nigeria, late 1960s. Two daughters, Olanna (Newton) and Kainene (Rose), mirror their country's newly-asserted independence by following their hearts rather than their father's wishes for them. One falls for a married man; the other a young radical (Ejiofor). Against a backdrop of national turmoil, neither's path proves smooth.
Fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s acclaimed bestseller about well-educated Nigerians (Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anika Noni Rose) caught up in the chaos and bloodshed of the newly independent nation’s civil war will be disappointed by Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele’s reductive reading of the novel, set in the ’60s but with themes that resonate from Sudan to the Congo. Newcomers will be puzzled by the clumsy contextualisation and muddled motivation of characters who, robbed of their inner lives by a clunky script, are left floundering amid the melodrama and speak-the-plot dialogue in what amounts to a Radio 4 play with pictures.
A clunky, clumsy handling of a book with (here untapped) depth.
Reviewed by David Hughes