“If it’s history you want, we have plenty of that,” whispered narrator Anansi to open the one-night only production of The Enemy at the Edge on March 23. Sponsored by the African Student Union and Urban Theater, The Enemy is a historical drama set in Ethiopia, “the motherland to all of us,” as senior Director Henoch Derbew explained.
“Sometimes we need to look beyond the numbers and look at the stories,” Derbew said.
With The Enemy, he did. Drawing on his experiences from the years he lived in Ethiopia, Derbew said he was always interested in why people forget about their past hardships. With his adaptation of The Enemy, Derbew hoped to reach out to both people who experienced Ethiopia’s history after the Cold War, as well as people who do not know about it.
The story begins with Emperor Haile Selassie, who is oblivious to the tension in his country and unfazed by the threat of rebellion (and by gunfire at his door). The Derg, or the military, declares “We alone are the law, and we alone are Ethiopia,” as it captures and murders the Emperor. Lt. Col Mengistu, played by first-year Rodney Jehu.
Junior Terrence Dilworth gave a strong performance as Amha, a young man fed up with the current situation and determined to be a hero for his country. Amha joins the Revolution, convincing his apathetic friend Alemayehu, played by junior Will Redmond, to join with him.
Throughout the play, the actors creatively utilized the entire space of the Edge, including the railings and aisles between the audience’s chairs. There was plenty of comic relief sprinkled throughout the dramatic plot to lighten the mood, much of which was provided by Redmond, as Alemayehu fired remarks at Amha, including one that was particularly scathing about an Ugly People’s Liberation Front. Intermittent updates from a BBC reporter, sophomore Victor Omwando, ensured that the audience was clear on the developing situations.
The plot of The Enemy thickens as Ahma’s mother, played by senior Andrea Harrison, discovers that her other son Daniel, played by first-year Dibs Datta, and is ordered to intercept an attack led by the Revolutionaries-in fact, one led by his brother Amha. Daniel says he will not hesitate to fulfill his duty as an officer even though his mother and sister Makeda, played by first-year Anna Ataku, plead with him not to.
However, when the face-off between the brothers begins, Amha is the one to shoot younger brother Daniel. Meanwhile, the Derg is strengthening its relations with the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Premier, junior Anthony Reyna, kept the audience laughing with his grand entrances.
As the program for The Enemy explained, it was not until 1991 that the Ethiopian’s People Revolutionary Democratic Front was able to claim the capital and become the ruling party. The play ended on a bitingly comical note, the audience’s favorite, when an official from the United States came bounding in. “We were behind you the entire time, I swear,” he says as he hands over a check and turns to leaves once again.
“This is how I heard the story growing up, how I envisioned it,” Derbew said.
He explained his main goal was to spark interest in his audience.
“I hope that everyone will be inspired to learn about world affairs in general,” Derbew said. “There are so many things that go on that we’re not always aware about. We need to be able to see the whole picture and decide for ourselves.”