Death and the King's Horseman

  • Date:
    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Genre: Drama
    Opened 8 April 2009
    Written: by Wole Soyinka
    Directed: Rufus Norris
    Produced: by National Theatre
    Synopsis: Nigeria, 1943. The King is dead, and tonight his Horseman must escort him to the Ancestors. As Elesin Oba dances through the closing marketplace, flirting with the women, pursued by his praise-singer and an entourage of drummers, he promises to honour the ancient Yoruba custom of ritual suicide and so accompany his ruler on the final journey. But a life so rich is hard to leave, and this is a British colony where such customs are not tolerated, no matter how sacred.

    What the popular press had to say.....
    NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, " Norris sometimes puts visual excitement before verbal clarity but Soyinka creates a thrilling, fresh tragic genre." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "It's a long-winded piece, but the wind can be pretty fragrant. Moreover, the dialogue of the African characters is often rich and rewarding, especially when it's contrasted with the blunt, arid speech of their colonial masters." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "This rich turbulent piece, which starts as folk comedy and ends as Greek tragedy, takes on board an abundance of ideas: identity, tradition, the passage from life to death. It says much for Rufus Norris's liberating production that these themes emerge with tumultuous force." SUSAN ELKIN for THE STAGE says, "Fine theatre."

    External links to full reviews from popular press
    The Guardian
    The Times

    Production photos by Robbie Jack

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