‘How We Love’ is a powerful reminder that in Nigeria homosexuals are hunted and killed. Babs (Enoch Lwanga) is a gay investigative reporter who is in South London visiting his lesbian best friend Regi (Ewa Dina). They have decided to get married, for their own safety, and that of their respective partners back in Nigeria. They want to be able to go home and live their lives, without fear of being murdered for their sexual orientation.
A sense of fear pervades how they interact and behave. Social media posts are scrutinised, because an incriminating photo could cost you your life, or the life of those you care about. They don’t even use their partners’ names when talking about them, because even in the supposed safety of Regi’s flat in Lewisham, you never know who might be listening.
The play focuses on the build up to their wedding, and there is a warmth and humour throughout that means this isn’t a grueling theatrical experience. Regi and Babs are funny, argumentative, conflicted and interesting human beings. I became really invested in what was happening to them, and couldn’t help worrying that this marriage, once held up to the light, provides the flimsiest of shields. Particularly when your own relatives might be looking to trip you up.
Enter Regi’s elderly neighbour (Paul. T Davies), an 89 year-old German Jew, and the ghosts of atrocities past collide with the present. This play is a stark warning about the evil of what is happening in Nigeria. What particularly struck me, is how insidious this persecution and murder is, because the police can always invent justifications for their manhunts.
‘How We Love’ is a thought-provoking play that pulls us in with its warmth and humanity. While the flow can feel uneven, leaving some scenes feeling a bit disjointed, overall this is a moving piece of new writing from Annette Brook that has the scope to become even more devastating. Lwanga and Dina give such sympathetic and relatable performances as Babs and Regi, I must confess that I was crying by the end. It’s the hope that really gets to you.
‘How we Love’ runs at Vault Festival until Sunday 23rd February.