Three can play the game

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By Jude Nwabuokei

“3Some” (written and directed by Jude Idada) is one of those plays one could say confronts and deconstructs issues that people would rather speak about in whispers. If once could say Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues depicts consensual sexual experiences; “3some” takes it a notch higher with dialogue that is at once risqué and raunchy.

In the first place, the idea of a threesome tickles the fancy of many people, especially the young and adventurous, it goes against the grind of present-day marriages, and bound together to love and cherish each other till death or “irreconcilable differences” separates them.

The first five years of matrimony is generally believed to be the post-honeymoon period, a time when the flame of passion is still very much blazing. That’s the period Dayo (Daniel Etim Effiong) and Chioma (Uzor Osimkpa) Doherty are in their marriage when the play begins; but it is already heading for the rocks, primarily because of sexual tension. Chioma has sexual tendencies that Dayo is unable to match up to, so she finds her cure in a substitute lover on the internet—a man who will give her the experience of a threesome and other stimulating adventures missing in her marriage.

She is the model wife of the 21st century: educated, sophisticated, tech-savvy and ambitious; the kind of woman a man will be hard pressed to cage and control at will. She wants freedom and she takes it, whatever the price or consequence. As loving as Dayo Doherty appears, he also went into marriage in a bid to live up to the expectation of his Mother-in-Law Asmau (Kemi Bickersteth), whom he has a crush on. It’s a kind of sweet taboo that comes to the surface in the wake of his sexual liberation. So liberated is he that he practically sleeps with Asmau and has no feelings of remorse.

Relationship counsellors advise couples to love and commit unreservedly to each other, to be faithful, patient and forgiving. From the first scene of “3Some”, we see these values tested to the point where the sacred institution of marriage oscillates between the two extremes of idealism and realism.

Love and commitment assume a new dimension in this play. It gradually loses its pure and unconditional nature, to one that thrives on evening the score and balancing emotional equations. When Dayo discovers that Chioma has a lover on the internet, she tries to assure him of her love. “You are the one who has my heart in his palms,” she says.

But we see another side to her when Dayo insists on ending the marriage, in spite of his mother-in-law’s pleas not to take such hasty decisions. She simply smirks, shoves him aside and walks out of the marriage. She goes on to have bouts of threesomes and BDSMs (Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism), and she returns to her home after the “sexual healing”, so to speak. She is the perfect portrayal of the fact that the 21st century wife is kinkier than she cares to admit, even among the seemingly religious ones. When Chioma eventually returns from her sexual adventure, Dayo is already a changed man: all lovey-dovey and sweet, and coached by his Mother-in-Law, he is more than prepared to fulfill his wife’s erotic fantasies.

In Asmau, the collapse of religion and the dignity that comes with old age is evident. She is a devout Christian who has raised her daughter to the best of her ability. Regardless of her religious inclinations, she yearns for physical affection and attention, a void she fills while trying to save her daughter’s marriage. Dayo, it turns out, is her weakness and waterloo. He uses her as the “gas station” to fuel his sexual desires. She finds herself having to assume three roles: mother, mother-in-law and lover, a tri-partite being in an emotional threesome involving herself, her daughter and her son-in-law.

What then is the whole idea of marriage? What keeps the flames of passion ablaze? These are some of the questions that are raised as one follows the plot of this erotic play. The playwright places marriage on a slab and dissects it in such a way that people are made to look beyond the glamour and glitz of marriage ceremonies and define their expectations before diving in. With the use of three major characters, the playwright treats an issue that most people would rather speak about in giggles and hushed tones

While the play has its strong points, it has tampered with the sensibilities of African culture that abhors the act of sleeping with a mother-in-law or a much older woman for that matter. Even though the cougar or “Sugar Mummy” phenomenon is prevalent, most cultures in Africa frown at it.

As a Nigerian playwright who lives in Canada, it is understandable that the playwright’s worldview and belief system will have been impacted, but I see no clear reason for crafting the play that leads to a man sleeping with his Mother-in-Law. There is enough tension in the play that this unholy affair becomes extraneous and needless. Could one blame that on a ‘Hollywood effect’, which falls back to sex to resolve conflicts? Save for this little theatrical gimmick, the overall performance is top-notch