The Lion and the Jewel

Critical reception

  • The Times Literary Supplement: "In this richly ribald comedy, The Lion and the Jewel, poetry and prose are also blended, but with a marvellous lightness in the treatment of both. The big set-piece of miming in the opening scene, where the villagers re-enact the visit of the white photographer, and the seduction of the village jewel Sidi by the old Lion of a chief, are two of the pinnacles of Mr. Soyinka's achievement to date."
  • African Forum: "The contemporary theater seems to have forgotten that it has its roots in ritual and song, and it is only the rare emergence of a Lorca or a Brecht-or a Wole Soyinka-that recreates an awareness of our deprivation."
  • West Africa: "...a brilliant dramatist-the most important in Nigeria, if not in all of Black Africa. He is helped by a profound command of the English language, reflected sometimes in the dazzling brilliance, at other times in the intense poetic quality of his writing...."
  • The Times Educational Supplement: "He does not use the culture of his ancestors as a gimmick to sell his abilities or even as an export commodity, but as inborn material for expansion. His skilful use of idiom with the lively and musical Nigerian flavour in no way detracts from the command of the English language which he possesses."
  • The Times, at the time of the play's production at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in December 1966: "This is the third play by Wole Soyinka to appear in London since last year, and this work alone is enough to establish Nigeria as the most fertile new source of English-speaking drama since Synge's discovery of the Western Isles.... Even this comparison does Soyinka less than justice, for he is dealing not only with rich folk material, but with the impact of the modern on tribal custom: to find any paralled for his work in English drama you have to go back to the Elizabethans."

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