The narrative trajectory of Gold Statue is pretty simple. There are no branches or subplots. It proceeds with conflicts arising at every point, a naturalness in both their manner of arising and how they are resolved. But that is only a result of veteran director Tade Ogidan’s complex process.
Our introduction is the narrator and protagonist, Adewale Esho (Gabriel Afolayan), who is about to be lynched in Ilesa for attempting to steal a car. The tension is palpable in this scene because Tade manages to recreate the honest, gothic details of a mob; the ire, the cannibalism. But we are just beginning.
Nigeria has a long list of lost or stolen precious and/or sacred precolonial cultural artifacts. It is around one such artifact that the drama is woven; what was previously lost is about to become stolen but this time, from underneath a maximum security prison. A conspiracy between three continents leads our protagonist, a hitherto good son to an aristocrat couple, Richard Mofe-Damijo’s Akintade and the temperamental Sola Sobowale’s Grace, to court jail-time, with a gold statue worth a billion dollars as the motive. And Tade herds his audience to jail with Wale because what follows is an expose on prison life.
Nobody finds Nigerian prisons funny. The stories that escape their walls are equal parts of mind-numbing and heartbreaking. The director squeezes comedy out of this muck. In prison, the charismatic Wale takes on a false personality that is both compelling and comical. But the prison cast is already comprised of humans who breathe comedy. There is Woli Arole in the dungeons and Ali Baba as the head of the prison. Rycardo Agbor is the necessary buffer to the comedy.