Drum is a retelling of two emerging Ghanaian creatives, who meet for the first time. As they reminisce of home, share music and debate about politics, Jacob Roberts-Mensah’s play is an ode to Ghana, a celebration of the history and the culture.

Credit: Dan Tsantilis 

Walking into the theatre, a compilation of Ghanaian highlife plays. The setting is a BBC studio, with vinyl and music posters decorated around the stage. 

Inspired by true events, Drum takes place in 1967, when photographer, James Barnor, meets with BBC broadcaster, Mike Eghan to take his photos for the South African magazine, Drum. During the photoshoot, the pair engage in discussions on life in the UK, memories of Ghana and what success means to them.  

I couldn’t help but smile at Barnor and Eghan’s first exchanges in the Fante and Ga dialect. It was as though the characters were asserting their ‘Ghanaian-ness’, from questioning what region of Ghana they were from to how well the other knew certain Ghanaian tracks.

Joshua Roberts-Mensah plays James Barnor, who mocks Eghan’s ‘mid-Atlantic accent’ and criticises the DJ for not wanting to use his talents in Ghana. Benjamin Sarpong-Broni as Mike Eghan, hits back, expressing his work at the BBC and playing African music is ‘opening doors’ for those back home. Eghan rightfully points out that Barnor is just like him and is also in London for the career opportunities. 

The duo were solid performers and showed lively energy. Roberts-Mensah had great stage presence and played Barnor with wit and charisma, especially during moments where the character pokes fun at Eghan. Sarpong-Broni, who was more serious of the two, is passionate and was strongest during the scenes where the pair debated politics. I particularly enjoyed the discussion surrounding Pan Africanism and Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Eghan and Barnor held differing opinions, and both raised valid points on the impact of Nkrumah’s government. 

Credit: Dan Tsantilis 

With direction from Sarah Amankwah, it was a touching choice to include a re-enactment of the 1957 Ghana Independence Day. As the setting was reimagined to what was a momentous event in African history, Roberts-Mensah recited Nkrumah’s famous speech, chanting ‘Ghana is free forever’. 

There was also an entertaining musical sequence, where Barnor and Eghan performed traditional Ghanaian moves before showcasing their synchronised choreography – it was such a joy to watch! 

Jacob Roberts-Mensah’s script is engaging and provides an accurate representation. Although there was not much of an in-depth plot during this 80-minute play, I still appreciated the story of our characters. Overall, Drum is a unique show, with wonderful storytelling of Ghanaian culture, the history, and identity. Being from Ghanaian heritage, I learned more about my country, and I am proud to have this play provide both education and celebration! 

Rating: 4 out of 5.
DrumOmnibus TheatreUntil 25th September


{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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