Half of a Yellow Sun (★★ Empire Review)

HalfYellowSunSquareNigeria, 1960: A well-educated Nigerian couple (Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor) find themselves caught up in the unrest, bloodshed and civil war that followed in the wake of their country’s independence.

Fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s prize-winning bestseller, about well-educated Nigerians (Thandie Newton, Ejiofor and Anika Noni Rose) caught up in the chaos and bloodshed of the newly-independent African nation’s civil war, will be disappointed by Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele’s reductive reading of Adichie’s sweeping novel, set in the 1960s but with themes that resonate from the Sudan to the Congo. Newcomers will be bemused by the clumsy contextualisation and muddled motivation of characters who, robbed of their inner lives by a clunky script, are left floundering amid the melodrama and speak-the-plot dialogue in what amounts to a Radio 4 play with pictures.

Newton and Ejiofor do their best with the stilted dialogue in an unfocussed, muddled and reductive adaptation of a widely-read, much-loved and important novel. ★★


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