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: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – New Women

“Engaging with the voices is a radically liberating move”

There was undoubtedly a lot of theatre during the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival but for me, the New Women session in the middle of the day was the highlight – three cracking pieces which variously looked to the past, the present and the future to thrilling effect. We started with a group new to me – The Hiccup Project – two Brighton based performers blurring the lines between dance, comedy, and theatre to create a most beguiling form of performance art.

Somewhat confessional, somewhat quirky, altogether fun, Cristina Mackerron and Chess Dillon-Reams’ May-We-Go-Round was a delight and a canny piece of programming as it was unlike anything else in all 10 hours of the day, made me excited to see further work by them and if nothing else, reminded us all of the benefits of a good skip. Looking to the past, Winsome Pinnock’s Tituba embroiders a rich emotional life for the character who almost incidentally appears in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Continue reading “Review: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – New Women”

Review: Taken – Charged, Soho Theatre

Part of the Charged season at Soho Theatre

“Do you know what you done to me?”

In what was the final play of the first day for me, Winsome Pinnock’s Taken looks at how three generations of a family are each affected by the decision to give up a child. Fresh out of rehab and coming to terms with the damage she caused as a drug addict, Della has returned to her mother’s council flat to help care and clean for her as she is struggling to manage on her own. When she is paid a visit by a young woman claiming to be the daughter she gave up, she is forced to confront the painful realities of her decision.

Beatie Edney was very good as Della, the woman barely able to acknowledge that she was so deep in her addiction that she can’t really recognise whether it really is the daughter she gave up. Rebecca Oldfield uses a manipulative edginess well as the could-be daughter and Janet Henfrey is painfully moving as Nane Nola, suffering from some dementia-like affliction but still able to have moments of startling revelatory acuity that pierce to the truth of what really happened. Continue reading “Review: Taken – Charged, Soho Theatre”