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Feast at the Young Vic - Review

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
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Feast at the Young Vic is a feast of music, dance and colour
You don't need to know anything about the Yoruba people of West Africa, their belief systems and deities before going to see Feast at the Young Vic. The cast and the programme will fill in all of the gaps for you. To satisfy your curiosity there are more than 400 Orishas (deities) and this production introduces you to four of them. They are Esu, a trickster and shape-shifter, and three maternal Orishas: Yemaya, Oya and Oshun. After their capture by slave traders the cast depicts the journeys made in the slave ships; this is imaginatively conveyed by lighting and projection informing of the millions who crossed the Atlantic to be sold in markets in the Americas.

Feast - Image Courtesy of the Young Vic website

The thesis behind Feast is that the Yoruban diaspora is still alive today in the descendants of those who were captured in Nigeria and Benin. The reincarnated Orishas re-enact their stories, whether in Brazil after the slaves were liberated, during the Civil Rights movement in the USA in the 1960s, in Cuba where a Communist prostitute is visited by an American tourist for some spiritual insights, in New York where gangsta rap is the thesis of a postgraduate student and in London in 2012 where other young blacks try to convince an Olympic gold medallist that her relationship with her white coach is improper. Sometimes these stories (penned by five different writers) don't completely convince, but they are beautifully woven together against a background of music, dance, singing, imaginative lighting and projections and colourful costumes.

The one hour forty minutes of the production entertain magically, from the shape-shifting dances at the beginning, via the three sisters separated by Esu, the trickster on their way to a family feast, and eventually finishing at various family feasts in Cuba, Brazil, America and Britain. The aromas of the cooking pots will make you salivate and the music will make you want to tap your feet. And when the stereotypical 'Nigerian' stands on the stage and tells you how much money you will earn if you only send him some first, you will laugh at the reputation of Nigerians as con artists before bursting into thunderous applause.

Here are a few snippets of the production and thoughts of audience members.

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Why? To learn about the Yoruba religion and culture and be entertained by an enjoyable piece of theatre
When: Until 23 February
Where: Young Vic
Cost: Between 10 and 30
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