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Hoard review at Arcola Theatre, London – ‘a love letter to British Nigerians of the diaspora’

Estella Daniels, Kemi Durosinmi and Elizabeth Ita in Hoard at the Arcola Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton Estella Daniels, Kemi Durosinmi and Elizabeth Ita in Hoard at the Arcola Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Rafi, Ami and Bili are sisters. They’re independent women. They live their best lives.

Their mother, Wura Bakare, is a hoarder. The sisters grew up in an east London home with four generously sized bedrooms, but the whole family, including their father, lived in just one of them because Wura’s inexplicable heaps of stuff lived everywhere else.

It cost the Bakare sisters school friendships, romantic relationships and, if you ask Bili, it cost Rafi her sanity. When Wura unexpectedly turns up for dinner one evening, her daughters decide to stage an intervention.

It might sound heavy-going, but it isn’t. Bim Adewunmi’s Hoard is delightfully frivolous and highly entertaining, thanks to sharp comedic performances from the ensemble of five.

Tyler Fayose’s Brian is energetic, while Elizabeth Ita, Estella Daniels and Kemi Durosinmi perfectly capture the dynamics of a tight-knit sisterly love. Ellen Thomas is utterly magnetic as Wura Bakare. She doesn’t walk, she saunters like honey legs flowing down the sides of a honey jar. She’s a picture of pride and elegance in that very specific way African mothers have.

Bex Kemp’s set design is sleek – one table and four chairs, one tasteful bookshelf, one sofa; nothing is superfluous. It highlights the very specific subject matter of the piece – African mothers who move far from their homeland and develop tendencies to accumulate too many things.

Adewunmi’s writing is a love letter to their children everywhere, an acknowledgement of their long-suffering existence, and a welcome invitation to feel normal.

Cancelled Bim Adewunmi play to be staged at Arcola Theatre in London

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Bim Adewunmi’s playwriting debut about a hoarding mother is a love letter to black British Nigerians of the diaspora