Clare Bucknell writes:
It’s opening night at the National Theatre. The radical writer and director Amma Bonsu, snubbed for decades by the cultural establishment for her uncompromising work (FGM: The Musical; Cunning Stunts), is about to astonish audiences with a new play. The Last Amazon of Dahomey has sold out before the run begins; it features 18th-century lesbian West African warriors, ‘thunderous armies of charging Amazons brandishing muskets and machetes/hollering and swelling towards the audience’. The before and after of the first performance bookend Bernardine Evaristo’s latest novel, bringing her characters’ storylines together in one place. Everyone is at the National to see the play and to be seen at the afterparty. There is Amma’s teenage daughter, Yazz, in her second year at UEA, determined to break into journalism and force her elders to check their privilege; her gay father, Roland, Amma’s sperm donor and the University of London’s first professor of modern life; Dominique, Amma’s sex-goddess best friend, a surprise arrival from Los Angeles; Amma’s unglamorous friend Shirley, a.k.a. Mrs King, a.k.a. Fuck Face, endlessly teaching history to the undeserving and ungrateful (‘the next generation of prostitutes, drug dealers and crackheads’) at Peckham School; one of Shirley’s very few star pupils, Carole, now vice president of a City bank by way of Oxford; and Morgan, a non-binary Twitter influencer and huge fan of Amma’s plays who’s been paid to tweet-review the evening in ‘attention-seeking soundbites’.