Runboyrun and In Old Age, by Mfoniso Udofia, a master at wordplay, capture the power of letting go of the past. The two plays are part of Udofia’s nine-part cycle that focuses on several generations of Nigerian immigrants who have settled in America. In Runboyrun and In Old Age, a catharsis occurs when the truth is revealed, and characters meet this new feeling with both hope and sadness.
Don’t go to The Homecoming Queen expecting a story involving tailgate parties and Hail Mary passes. This thoughtful, emotionally wracking drama doesn’t even take place in the United States. It’s the story of a homecoming of its heroine, Kelechi, to the African village in Nigeria that she left 15 years earlier to build a life in the U.S. It’s about culture shock, revenge, guilt, and, strangely but pertinently, the damage wrought by rape.
Sojourners and Her Portmanteau, in repertory at the New York Theatre Workshop, want to be heard. Mfoniso Udofia’s plays, conceived of as part of a nine-play multigenerational chronicle (of which five have been written) of the Nigerian-American Ufot family, saunter from moment to moment, expanding each dramatic beat to examine it with microscopic curiosity. Though the result, as shaped by director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar and dramaturg Janice Paran, is often excruciatingly dry, the plays demand a witnessing of their American immigrants’ stories.