Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True

"Hear Word!" is how Nigerians start a story, a sort of town crier’s call and Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True co-written and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa is definitely attention catching. This production by Fafunwa’s iOpenEye and American Repertory Theater is agit-prop theatre at its best, forceful and hard-hitting, at times horrific. The show also contains humour with ten women castigating men for mistreating women, whether through gender inequalities, sexism, abuse and rape but also taking to task the women who condone this behaviour.

This uplifting show is one not to miss.

In the vibrant colours and bold patterns of Nigerian costume including elaborate headdresses (gele), each of the women performs in turn in a collage of monologues and some ensembles accompanied by percussion by Blessing Idireri, Emeka Anokwuru and Emmanuel Uzoka which emphasies or responds to their speech as well punctuating each tale. The diction of all the women is not always clear, so sadly some of the details are lost. But the general message always comes across loud and clear performed with stylised expression and exaggerated movements, with much bottom shaking and occasionally terrific moments of dance.

"It starts small," says the first performer - then instances of unwanted touching are listed in the office and the dilemma made clear, "I really need this job." The examples magnify as a girl’s youth and inexperience walking at twilight with a man can lead unwittingly into rape and the marriage of a seven year old girl to an old man which is no better than rape by a paedophile. A story about the beating of a wife, where she gets her own back is amusingly told but underlines the problem of a society which also thinks that she must have done something to deserve it. The most harrowing story is of a young wife who gives birth to a still-born child. Her internal complications mean she can no longer bear children so her husband divorces her and she is ostracised by society.

It is clear that the status of women in Nigeria is amost non-existant, legally as well as socially. Some women condone this, thinking the birth of one male child is better than several female children.

But it is not all a catalogue of horrors. The second half is celebratory of women’s strength, power and sexuality. Not all men are bad in this section but are celebrated here. The pièce de résistance performed magnificently by Taiwo Ajai-Lycett in yellow and gold dress, plus an imposing shiny mauve headdress. Merely entering and standing centre stage is a statement, encouraging women to own their sexuality even at an older age. Followed by a hilarious vignette Songs of Praise performed by Ufuoma McDermott, a born again Christian who celebrates her orgasm as God.

These feisty women will surely start a sea-change in Nigeria. In fact, you’d be surprised that any man would stand up to them, but of course societal change has a long way to go. Their message is relevant throughout the world too and this uplifting show is one not to miss.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

Festival Theatre

The Scandal at Mayerling

Festival Theatre

NDT2: The Big Crying, Simple Things, Impasse

Edinburgh Festival Theatre / Milton Keynes Theatre / New Theatre Cardiff

The Great Gatsby



Royal Lyceum Theatre

Christmas Dinner


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Hear Word! is Nigerian pidgin English for ‘Listen and Comply’. In this unflinchingly honest performance, ten of Nigeria’s biggest stars of theatre, film and television come together on stage to tell multi-generational stories of inequality and transformation.

Hear Word! gives an intimate view into the obstacles that Nigerian women face. Stories of domestic violence, of women’s absence from positions of power, of resilience and resistance, of shattering the culture of silence, of overturning the status quo, of abuse, disrespect, bravery, sisterhood and joy.

It’s a life-affirming call for female solidarity and empowerment that will shock you with its frankness, amuse you with its comedy — and galvanise you into action.

Download the programme here

Co-written and Directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa

Cast includes Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Ufuoma McDermott, Omonor, Zara Udofia-Ejoh, Elvina Ibru, Rita Edward, Toluwanimi Arawomo, Oluchi Odii, Odenike

Produced by iOpenEye in association with American Repertory Theater

More information about some of the artists:

Hear Word
Twitter | Instagram 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Ifeoma Fafunwa
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Ufuoma McDermott
Twitter | Instagram

Most Popular See More

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets