Two years post pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, the importance of reconnecting to one’s roots has been an important stride within a very transformational time period, generational trauma a state explored more openly now. An exploration of an Igbo couple captured from Nigeria, West Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Sonny Nwachukwu‘s show Saturn Returns draws on the historical event of The Igbo Landing, a mass suicide by the captive Igbo people in 1803 onboard a slave ship in refusal of slavery.
“The waters brought us here and the waters will take us back”, Saturn Returns overriding theme, Durassie Kiangangu‘s Obi and Rudzani Moleya‘s Ada making sense of their unpleasant reality, now forcibly on board a vessel unwelcoming, unaware of the future that lay ahead for them on foreign soil, once rooted in their native Nigeria, living off the prosperous land – connected to spirit, family and the elements, now nation-less – a pair ripped apart yet drawn together by their unrelenting love. Nwachukwu constructs a powerful, resonant choreopoem connecting the divine, the elemental and the visible world, Kiangangu and Moleya brilliantly honouring Nwachukwu’s elaborate text, the integration of traditional West African dance and martial arts contributing a fluidity, unitedness and rootedness to the motherland.
Ben Glover‘s visually striking video projections integrate art and text that bring this reality to life, Elaine Lillian Joseph‘s audio descriptions wonderfully addressing accessibility and also heightening the words of the poem, each line serving as echoes of that fateful day and lead up to it. The experience is a spiritual one, one that remembers the ancestors that perished, and how those fateful events now shape today. The show’s drawing on the cyclical – referring to the mathematical concept of Pi a reminder of the patterns that we internally keep ourselves trapped in as well as the external happenings that tend to repeat themselves. A necessary, cathartic look back at West African history and part of it that is seldom explored, a stunning show!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Saturn Returns was shown from Thursday 21st until Sunday 24th April 2022 at Brixton House as part of their Housemates Festival. To find out more about the production, visit here…
For our interview with the show’s writer Sonny Nwachukwu, visit here…
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