In Ngozi Anyanwu's Off-Broadway debut at the Atlantic, a bestselling novelist returns to Nigeria to care for her ailing father, but before she can bury him, she must relearn the traditions she’s long forgotten. More…
Having been absent for over a decade, she must collide with her culture, traumatic past, painful regrets, and the deep, deep love she thought she could never have.
"The play is a beautiful meditation on home, alienation, love, pain, and regret. It strikes harmonious chords with a masterful clarity...Each and every member of the cast is incredible. These characters feel fully realized and human...Timpo has directed a production intent on the verisimilitude of life and its complications, and wow -- how she does succeed...One of the most memorable and poignant endings I've seen -- a testament to the power of story and hope." Full Review
"Insightful writing, deft staging, an irresistibly appealing cast...The focus on Kelechi – and Udofia’s riveting, subtle transformation from aloof interloper to reclaimed villager open to forgiveness and revelation – are exhilarating to watch...'The Homecoming Queen' is rich and deep, a show to treasure. It should be moved to a bigger space and given a chance to breathe." Full Review
"Wrings all the pleasure possible out of its familiar tropes even as it revamps their meaning...If the plot is compelling…it is also sometimes murky…In contrast, too many of the conventionally narrative scenes repeat the same arc…They deliver no new emotional information even if they do deliver delight...Timpo’s work with the principals is exemplary...I appreciated, too, that the characters’ emotions are not rushed into place as if on a conveyor belt, which often happens in shortish plays." Full Review
"A powerful story, fueled by powerful writing, is brought vividly to life by director Awoye Timpo in a production that’s both simple and evocative...Udofia’s take on her is spot on. She taps into Kelechi’s nervous, somewhat bitchy, energy quite well...Director Timpo uses these four women to great effect, and they, in their dazzlingly colorful plumage, are captivating as they laugh, sing, smile, talk, fold clothes, or stand in silence." Full Review
"Despite all the familiar elements that unfold...the Nigerian setting isn't the only thing fresh and original about this play. Granted, some details are too glossed over...The most obvious plot points come off as fresh and somehow surprising, thanks to the mostly excellent writing, and the way director Awoye Timpo has shepherded the cast and the crafts team to create a vividly theatrical experience." Full Review
"Starts out clichéd, but the piece swells in rich moments of music and feeling expertly executed by the cast of storytellers...Once the exposition has cleared, 'The Homecoming Queen' finally comes to life with delicious surprises and understated character work. Yet it is the talent of the collective ensemble that is superior here...By the end of its 105 minutes, 'The Homecoming Queen' becomes a play for every actor on the stage and for every patron in the house." Full Review
"A memory play and a mythic tale...A home-coming and a home-embracing and a home-leaving tale. The characters are solid and vibrant...Beautiful ensemble work...The important points that unravel the mystery are often glossed over...The logistics were sometimes murky, and this pulled me out of the story. Not enough to leave me stranded, however...I look forward to more of Anyanwu's work. Hers is a voice that should be encouraged." Full Review
“'The Homecoming Queen'…excels at atmospheric local color; however, its episodic, flashback-filled structure and indirect secrets can sometimes be confusing, while what we learn of Kelechi's girlhood tragedy is neither particularly overwhelming nor original. I wanted to laugh more at the play's comedy and cry more at its pathos but left the theatre more impressed by its performative and cultural values than its emotional ones.” Full Review
"Better than any play I've seen, 'The Homecoming Queen' captures the everyday theater we perform to convince ourselves and those around us of who we really are...The actors embody these overlapping identities in thoughtful and nuanced performances...Director Awoye Timpo stages the production with a keen eye for detail. While the play becomes a bit shaggy and unfocused in the second half, 'The Homecoming Queen' ends on a high note." Full Review
"The crown in Ngozi Anyanwu’s complex new play is one of rich tradition, worn in reverence and regret by Kelechi, a bestselling author who has traveled from America to Nigeria to see, and ultimately bury, her ailing father...We never find out with any certainty where that search for connection takes her, but by play’s end, we find ourselves wishing her only the best." Full Review
"Most of the actors seem to be dancing to a tune they hear together, but Udofia is half a step out of pace with them...Still, Timpo's beautifully constructed production flatters Anyanwu's work. Where the play is strong...the production is excellent; when the writing gets weaker and more predictable, the staging distracts us with sound and celebration...Misgivings about 'The Homecoming Queen' dissolve in the company’s ability to create a palpable community." Full Review
"Neither Anyanwu nor Udofia cares about making Kalechi nice, and that’s both refreshing and admirable...'The Homecoming Queen' has the feeling of a play that, like its heroine, is still finding its way...Yet even in its unevenness, 'The Homecoming Queen' does not feel slack...The moments of pathos and brilliance just take a while to start coming...Under the direction of Awoye Timpo, the play’s tonal register can sometimes feel blurry." Full Review
"A powerful exploration of a familiar story...Cleanly and inventively directed by Awoye Timpo on a long runway that splits the audience into two opposing sides...Despite its top-notch cast and vivid production, 'The Homecoming Queen' needs the kind of polish another draft would provide...It's a heartfelt piece that's worth seeing, particularly for its strong cast that gives themselves over to Anyanwu's story with total commitment." Full Review
"Anyanwu has quite a potentially wrenching story to tell...I only wish she had better control of her material...If 'The Homecoming Queen' is ever going to become the gripping drama that its story suggests, it will need stronger confrontations and a summing-up of the consequences of trying to bury the past and the damage that has festered over the years. As it is, Anyanwu does something I though impossible: She is making violent assault and revenge seem really quite anodyne." Full Review
See it if Family dramas with real psychological depth appeal to you; you are intrigued by the dynamics of the immigrant perspective
Don't see it if Spending time with other cultures does not resonate for you; you need a theater piece to answer all questions you might have quickly
See it if You like intense drama & are comfortable exploring regret, fear, vengeance, longing and considering how trauma has shaped your choices
Don't see it if An African centered plot would be a turnoff, if you are looking for something light or if you have recently survived a traumatic experience
See it if You enjoy a touching portrayal of a female writer's return to her Nigerian roots and the good and bad memories acted out by a fine cast.
Don't see it if African problems, music, vibes are not your cup of tea.
See it if Interested in modern African life and culture
Don't see it if Want light fare. This is about a woman suffering from post traumatic stress disorder years after she beaten and raped as a young woman.
See it if you want to ponder immigrant experience in the particular and nature of belonging. If you want to puzzle through shifting time sequences.
Don't see it if you want mindless and relaxing entertainment. Need to stay on your toes to follow characters and their relationship. So worthwhile though!
See it if you want a fascinating study of another culture that is relevant to our own.
Don't see it if you're not interested in dramas about Africa, women-dominated casts or have difficulty with actors speaking with accents.
See it if you love immersive theatre, different cultures, and innovative storytelling.
Don't see it if you can't follow stories about different cultures or don't like plays that have music and singing.
See it if a story about going home (Nigeria) and facing painful memories; Nigerian culture with its language, dress, customs..
Don't see it if you don't like moving family dramas, want something uplifting, want chorus in one location
See it if Following an absorbing story. Watching a character balance their old country & thru a lens of the new country.
Don't see it if Have trouble with the use of flashbacks. Are not comfortable with characters having to come face to face with events in the past.
See it if you enjoy family sagas set in Africa with a hint of mystery and misdirection, "return to home" stories, romance with personal barriers
Don't see it if you don't enjoy "family" plays that are slow to reveal its secrets & jump around in time, take place in a culture that may discomfort you,
See it if you're open to different cultures. The story is interesting, the staging is clever and the ending leaves you thinking.
Don't see it if you're expecting a traditional plot, climax, and denouement. The play could use a little editing, at one hour 45 minutes, no intermission
See it if you like plays that make you think, that aren't strictly linear, and have great design elements, terrific acting, and have something to say
Don't see it if you are looking for a big brashy musical or a romantic comedy. There is a lot of music & comedy in this, but it is woven into the play.
See it if you're interested in cultural differences between LA and Nigeria; a woman's experiences as a child and how it shapes her; joy and tears.
Don't see it if you don't care for family themes, a tale that jumps around in time and can be confusing; moving away from home doesn't always make u happy.
See it if You suspect Thomas Wolfe was right - but need confirmation, or if you might like old themes rewarmed in an interesting way.
Don't see it if You are impatient with themes that have already been explored and just want to move on.
See it if you enjoy plays that jump around from the present to the past to magical realism. You enjoy plays that say you can go home again.
Don't see it if you find it challenging to follow when a play is in the present or past. You are not interested in different cultures.
See it if you are interested in how people interact and how their pasts can disable and distort their ability to make connections. Well done portrayal
Don't see it if you need a linear plot line. There is a small degree of confusion in timing and in the final scene as to whether it is wishful thinking
See it if You have appreciated the myriad of African plays by African women on stage over the past six months or you are interested in acculturation.
Don't see it if You are intolerant of uneven pacing or not being able to see all the action, depending on your seat.
Also I wanted to like this more than I did.
See it if A universal theme with a fascinating background. Well acted and directed.
Don't see it if you have no interest in themes that reverberate in other parts of the world and have universal interest.
See it if You appreciate complex narratives combining memories with on-going confrontations, good acting and excellent use of a tiny stage.
Don't see it if You like straightforward narratives, a larger physical stage, and a resolution that's not a fantasy. You don't like mixtures of cultures.
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