Review: The Wolves, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Sarah DeLappe’s play The Wolves proves a striking piece of ensemble work full of incisive teen insight at Theatre Royal Stratford East

“We should be, like, very very thankful for our liberties you know”

You don’t want to instinctively compare The Wolves to Dance Nation but as far as new plays written by American women about teenage girls involved in competitive sport go, the parallels are there. Sarah DeLappe’s debut play receives a visually striking production here from Ellen McDougall, with some superb design work from Rosie Elnile.

The sport here is football, indoor soccer to be precise, and we follow this team over five weeks’ worth of games. But the focus isn’t the games, it is the young women playing them – known only by their shirt numbers, not their names – the characters being formed by this intense group interaction, which ranges from jokey banter to the deeply profound. Continue reading “Review: The Wolves, Theatre Royal Stratford East”

Review: Leave Taking, Bush Theatre

A scorching revival of Winsome Pinnock’s Leave Taking is an absolute triumph at the Bush Theatre

“What they know about a black woman soul?”

It’s the little details. A quiet mention by two sisters of the four grandparents that they never met, all remaining in Jamaica as their mother emigrated to England in search of a better life for the family she was destined to have. It’s an aching sadness that permeates Winsome Pinnock’s 1987 intimate and insightful play Leave Taking and one which I’d never really considered before (my grandpa lived next door and my nan and grandad were only ever a couple hours drive away). Consider my eyes opened.

Life in Deptford has proven far from a dream for Enid, working her fingers to the bone in two jobs to provide for her daughters Del and Viv, themselves struggling with an identity caught between Caribbean roots and their mother’s new-found Englishness. To help soothe their souls, they visit a local Obeah woman, a spiritual healer, though no-one is prepared for the depth of feeling and the uncomfortable nature of the truths that need to be unleashed.    Continue reading “Review: Leave Taking, Bush Theatre”

Review: Parliament Square, Bush

“No one ever changed the world alone”

With pretty much every production of hers that I see (most memorably Lela & Co. and I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me Of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole), Jude Christian is becoming one of those directors whose work cannot be missed. And with the 2015 Bruntwood Prize-winning Parliament Square, now opening at the Bush after an October premiere at the Royal Exchange, that reputation doesn’t look in any danger at all.

She’s helped here by a magnificently fearless piece of writing from James Fritz, split almost schizophrenically into two contrasting parts. The first presents us with Kat, a woman on the precipice of leaving her husband and their young son to commit some unspeakable act, being urged along the way by an enigmatic figure far more bluntly daring than she seems to be. The second then takes us past the act, which failed, into an uncertain world of uneasy compromise.  Continue reading “Review: Parliament Square, Bush”