Mojisola Adebayo and the Antarctic Collective, Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey

Review in Issue 19-3 | Autumn 2007

This was a virtuosic solo of storytelling performance – an epic tale of empowerment, exploration and (self) discovery delivered with real theatrical grace. Despite dealing with serious themes – the Abolition of Slavery bicentenary, issues of transgender, the shrinking icecaps – the perspective is a delightfully absurd one. As the African narrator who frames the piece states, with the discovery of earth’s relation to the Sun, we are all bound to progress through life elliptically.

The story’s premise is the ancient myth uniting Africa with Antartica, poetically resonating their split with parallels of black and white, east and west and other political binaries. Moj’s journey, which moves apace through cautionary tales of exploration via adventure, chase caper to character comedy and finally geographic apotheosis, is a sprawling one. Yet its physical and literary delicacy prevents its aspirations – to give narrative shape to the experience of the slave trade, to decry the turning point of capitalism’s rise to hegemony – running out of control. The language is rich and densely poetic revelling in the materiality and playfulness of words, cracking open complex ideas like eggshells. The physicality and stagecraft were in generous counterpoint, investing the language with movement and presence without overwhelming it. Lyrical choreography invoked sensual lovemaking and to conjure the heaving steaming body of a whale; ritual song was used to great effect in remembrance of the dead. The filmed sequences often felt inexpressively literal by comparison.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-3
p. 32