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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

The Dilemma of a Ghost

Ama Ata Aidoo

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To purchase The Dilemma of a Ghost

Title: The Dilemma of a Ghost
Author: Ama Ata Aidoo
Genre: Drama
Written: 1964
Length: 53 pages
Availability: in: The Dilemma of a Ghost - US
in: The Dilemma of a Ghost - UK
in: The Dilemma of a Ghost - Canada
  • First performed 12 March 1964, at the University of Ghana, Legon

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Our Assessment:

B- : interesting if limited play about a small clash of cultures

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 21/4/2007 Karen Fricker
Irish Times . 19/4/2007 Gerry Colgan

  From the Reviews:
  • "The ambition of the project, however, with its 15-strong cast, appears to have pushed Arambe to the edge of its capabilities. Bisi Adigun's production suffers from a lack of a clear reading of the play and from apparent under-rehearsal. Most problematically, the production underplays the text's feminism" - Karen Fricker, The Guardian

  • "(A)lthough it signals the writer and scholar she was to become, it has not worn its years well. (...) The play moves too slowly to an illogical resolution of the dilemma, compounding other sporadic difficulties of audibility and heavily accented language. But the major problem is simply its age, and the presentation of characters still mired in primitive superstitions." - Gerry Colgan, Irish Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Dilemma of a Ghost centres around Ato Yawson, a Ghanaian who recently completed his studies in the United States and returns home with an American bride, Eulalie.
       From the beginning it is clear that Eulalie isn't like the girls back home, and that there is potential for conflict here. Already in the opening scene, a short prelude, Eulalie and Ato are arguing. Still, here there seems hope that love can conquer all -- at least that's how the two feel. But one of the big issues they will face is already addressed here: Eulalie isn't eager to bear children yet, though it is expected of her and Ato that they will begin a family as soon as possible.
       Eulalie doesn't quite fit into the African lifestyle. Ato, the scholar, is highly regarded for his accomplishments, but there are also expectations on him now, and it is difficult to balance them with wilful Eulalie's needs and desires.
       The action of the play is spread out over a year. Over the entire time Eulalie can't accustom herself to African customs and life. She turns to alcohol, and continues to do much as she pleases, rather than adopting the position expected of her. She doesn't fit in -- a situation that seems impossible to remedy.
       Aidoo presents the story quite well, balancing the action between the couple (and the family) with dialogues between two village women who provide a different perspective on events. Some of the dialogue is also quite good. Still, the story is not truly gripping, the characters not fully realized.
       An interesting play, a bit more than a period piece (it was written in the early 1960s), but not truly compelling.

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The Dilemma of a Ghost: Reviews: Ama Ata Aidoo: Other books by Ama Ata Aidoo under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of books relating to Africa
  • See Index of Drama books

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About the Author:

       Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo lived 1942 to 2023.

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