Review: Nova

Obehi Janice shines in this reflection on sexual empowerment and Black womanhood

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Obehi Janice, Nova
Photo by Hannah Caprara
Published 11 Aug 2023

It’s cliched to talk about Nova in relation to supernovas. But it’s tricky not to: writer and performer Obehi Janice shines centre-stage, stretched silver drapes and sparkling orbs behind her. It’s a position she deserves and earns in this one-woman theatre show about the sexual and romantic encounters of Nova, a Nigerian-American comedian. With cutting hilarity and astute criticisms, Nova welcomes us into a reflection upon sexual empowerment, Black womanhood, and the incessant celebrations of men who don’t deserve it. 

Most notably, Casanova – yes, Giacomo Casanova – is the man of focus. His sexual misadventures come under careful scrutiny, as the show unpacks Nova’s own experiences. We return to his namesake throughout, amid stories of boarding school and Parisian stays, in addition to several impressive musical interludes. Each digression is anything but; this is a show that is carefully crafted, held together with purpose and principle. 

Likewise, Janice carries Nova with a confidence that is rare to see on stage. Her energy never falters, even the quieter, slower moments held with the same measured control. She commands a crowd and it’s fun and thoughtful simply because she says so. The humour is never mean – it’s simply unforgiving and righteous, and deservedly so. Sexual jokes aren’t blushed over and it’s a refreshing relief. Nova is incisive and it doesn’t ponder; rather, our leading lady makes her point and never misses.