Reviewed By Karla Williams
Thursday, July 26, 2012.
Having started off as an online sitcom, Meet the Adebanjos depicts the everyday occurrences and comedy of a Nigerian family living in Britain. Most of the action revolves around the five main characters – the parents, Gladys and Bayo, (Oduwole & Ojo), teenagers, Sade & Tobi (Anthony & Aboagye) and Auntie Funke (Bamtefa). From time to time other characters join the fold including, Kevin (Tobi’s white best friend), Cousin Femi and Usher Michael whose misplaced aspirations to become a Pastor provide much of his characters humour.
The sitcom has now made it to the stage playing two dates at Broadway Theatre, Catford, London. Meet the Adebanjos – Live on Stage is, in effect, two previous episodes that have been extended and it was a disappointing that some new material hadn’t been created for the family’s venture from small screen to stage.
The selected episodes are the one when Auntie Funke wants to lose weight and enlists the assistance of Sade to help fit her size 18-plus body into a size 12 dress. The episode also highlights Bayo’s lack of romance as he forgets (yet again) his anniversary and has to seek guidance from his misguided playboy son who then gets himself into some women troubles of his own.
The second half is the episode where Sade is forced to sneak out in order to attend a Halloween Party as well as Bayo seeking spiritual guidance from Usher Michael to help him get a job. Usher Michael on the other hand has plans of his own as he ask Gladys to use her house to hold the weekly prayer meeting - and make an advances towards her in the mean time.
The comedy within Meet the Adebanjos – Live on Stage relies heavily on Nigerian culture and in most cases stereotypes; even when said stereotypes didn’t fall in line with the characters or larger plot. An example of this is when Bayo talks about not wanting to fly to Paris because he only just got his stay and Tobi doesn’t want to see his parents on Border Force UK. As funny as the line was, it didn’t really make sense, as having permanent residency in the UK allows you to fly in and out of the country and with teenagers as children it’s difficult to believe that immigration would really be a problem for him. Therefore the plausibility of much of the plot and story was sacrificed for obvious and clichéd humour which at times made me giggle but overall left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied.
Since its inception online Meet the Adebanjos rise to popularity is impressive and the live show’s almost full house proves its appeal to a large and supportive audience. However for those looking for a less ready-made comedy that aims to challenge common place views while still making you laugh – I’m not sure this is for you.
Cast Includes: Daniel Anthony, Wale Ojo, Yetunde Oduwole, Andrea Ama Aboagye and Moji Bamtefa.
@ Broadway Theatre, Catford, London.
Karla Williams is a London-based playwright and journalist.