The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English @ Bush Theatre Review

Folklore ties us back to our ancestral roots, narratives that effortlessly incorporate the lands they were birthed in and carry with them profound messages. The tale of Eze and the Kola Nut Tree within the Igbo (eebo) language native to Nigeria, West Africa one that ties those of the Nigerian diaspora, in particular Igbo to their horticultural roots. Initially debuting at the 2020 VAULT Festival, Tania Nwachukwu‘s The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English embraces what it means to be connected to one’s familial home yet embrace their UK heritage.

Courtesy of Ali Wright.

Caught up between African and British traditions, Tasha (Nwachukwu) necessarily goes on a journey within herself, to make sense of who she is and how she fits into the grander scheme of things. Situated in North-West London, in the early 2020s, we get a snapshot of what contemporary life looks like for her, the tale of Eze and the Kola Nut Tree a mighty reminder of the legacy she encapsulates, her tendering to the house plants today, somehow powerfully connecting her to the past and the spiritual voices that come with this.

Nwachukwu is a captivating presence, her bubbly, bold, personsble persona beautifully carrying the show with back and forths from the Kola Nuttraditional tale, to her interactions with family members in the present day. Live African drumming supplied by Francesca Amewudah-Rivers is a powerful addition to the production. A staple of African storytelling, the pair beautifully honour tradition to craft a poignant piece of self discovery. Ewa Dina directs an immediate, authentic, quietly ambitious hour.

The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English embodies what it means to be a first generation African in the UK, trying to make sense of identity. Such a crucial point to explore, the show speaks to Millenials and Gen Z, as well as the generations to follow. It’s wonderful watching shows such as this that cover ground seldom done before. This for me is immediately relatable and leaves me thinking about my own cultural heritage which is a powerful thing! I look forward to this strand of African/British storytelling being expanded further – this is important societally.

Written by Lucy Basaba.

The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English Is currently showing until Saturday 17th December 2022 at the Bush Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…


Written by Theatrefullstop