Past Reviews

Off Broadway Reviews

Nollywood Dreams

Theatre Review by David Hurst - November 11, 2021

Nana Mensah and Sandra Okuboyejo
Photo by Daniel J. Vasquez
As charming as it is hilarious, Jocelyn Bioh's Nollywood Dreams at MCC's still-new theatre complex is the perfect antidote to our collective pandemic blues. Cleverly directed by Saheem Ali with a superb cast of six, Nollywood Dreams is an unconventional romantic comedy whose only aim is to make you laugh. And laugh you will at this delicious, 90-minute, intermission-less, African confection.

Set in the bustling Lagos, Nigeria, of the early 1990s, aspiring siblings Ayamma Okafor (a sweet Sandra Okuboyejo) and her older sister Dede (the scene-stealing Nana Mensah) work at their parent's travel agency but yearn for glamour and adventure in their lives. That opportunity arrives in the form of an open casting call for a new film by wunderkind Nigerian director Gbenga Ezie (the solid Charlie Hudson III). Ezie may or may not be looking for a fresh face for the lead role of Comfort in his newest opus, The Comfort Zone, and Ayamma thinks she's perfect to play the starring role.

Winning the part would mean Ayamma would co-star with Nigeria's reigning heartthrob Wale Owusu (a super-smooth Ade Otukoya), a man Dede and every other woman in Nigeria lusts after, but fading star, and former paramour of director Gbenga Ezie, Fayola Ogunleye (an unleashed Emana Rachelle) wants the part of Comfort for her comeback and she's willing to indulge in some nasty blackmail to make it happen. What will happen? Who will win the role of Comfort? Will Wale fall in love with Ayamma? Will Fayola exact revenge on Gbenga? Don't look for any spoilers here.

Playwright Bioh, whose smash hit School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play rocked MCC's 2017-2018 season, shrewdly alternates the domestic machinations of Nollywood's characters with "live episodes" of Adenikeh's (Abena) television show—think the "Oprah!" of Nigeria. Adenikeh, whose fawning interviews propel the plot, provides the wonderful Abena an opportunity to deliver a shameless comedic turn that becomes the glue that holds Nollywood Dreams together.

Also deserving of special mention are the shrewd, rotating, scenic designs of Arnulfo Maldonado and the pitch-perfect, character-defining costumes from Dede Ayite's fertile imagination.

Nollywood Dreams
MCC Theatre
Through November 21, 2021
Newman Mills Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 W 52 St., New York NY
Tickets online and current performance schedule: