FELA! at the National Theatre

A legend in his life time in his native Nigeria and beyond, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti is a name unlikely to be familiar to the National’s usual audience – but then this isn’t a typical NT show.

The pounding rhythms of his Afrobeat music flood the auditorium as his female Queens gyrate intensely, provocatively on a set decked out to recreate the Shrine, the Lagos night club where, in the late 70’s, his fans gathered to smoke spliffs and hear his anti-government lyrics.

Sahr Ngaujah’s charismatic Fela persuades the audience to practise its pelvic thrusts, and Bill T. Jones’ hip-swivelling choreography is hypnotisingly exuberant. But the narrative is so disjointed and one-sided that ultimately this musical is more over-extended carnival than informative biography of a provocative political activist and hedonistic polygamist.

Lyttelton at the National, South Bank, SE1 9PX
020 7452 3000
Tube: Waterloo
In rep until 23rd January
£10 – £44.00

– Louise Kingsley