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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Buffong’

This is an impressive new play by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, multi-layered, covering lots of relevant contemporary issues. It illustrates how seemingly happy lives can unravel very quickly, triggered by just one event. Though ultimately very sad, I found it enthralling; I particularly liked it’s objectivity and authenticity. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen at the Royal Court in recent years.

Gary & Nicky are struggling financially but are happily married, both working, with three kids. Gary’s friend Mark and sister Karen are often around, and Mo and Anjum, friends through their children, are regular visitors too, all currently preoccupied with preparations for their kids’ school fair and their respective son’s next schools. On Mark’s birthday, Gary & Mark’s boss Victoria comes back from the pub with them. She seems lonely and rather envious of this close community. She drinks a bit too much and makes some racist comments that sends this close-knit group along a path that leads to the destruction of relationships in just two weeks.

In Michael Buffong’s production, the play grabs you quickly and maintains its pace and engagement for the whole 100 minutes without interval. Anna Fleischle’s clever design moves us speedily from Gary & Nicky’s council flat to Gary & Mark’s workplace, and back. It’s a great set of performances, particularly given the emotional journey’s they all have to make, from seven fine actors. At first all of their characters are sympathetic, but by the end it’s really only one, as each does or displays something that loses our empathy with them.

There’s a thread running between this and two other new plays I’ve seen this month – Fairview and Snowflake – but this is in many ways the best. A definite recommendation from me.

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Fifty-four years after it’s premiere, and 24 years after I first saw it, this new National Theatre production of Errol John’s play set in post-war Trinidad in the dying days of the colonial period proves itself a classic.

It’s a fascinating piece of social history as well as the personal story of five adults and two children sharing a backyard (and a water supply) surrounding their small homes. Soutra Gilmour’s brilliantly realistic design is atmospheric and suitably claustrophobic, with audience on two sides providing an intimate staging – you’re as ‘on top’ of them as they are ‘on top’ of each other.

Trolley bus driver Ephraim (a passionate Danny Sapani) decides to emigrate to Liverpool instead of settling for a promotion to inspector, leaving behind his girlfriend Rosa who he thinks is trying to entrap him. Mavis (a terrific Jenny Jules) decides to stop ‘entertaining’ the visiting US military and becomes engaged to clownish wide boy Prince (a superb Ray Emmet Brown). The lives of Sophia and Charlie (two more excellent performances by Martina Laird & Jude Akuwudike), proud at their daughter Esther’s scholarship to high school, are turned upside down when Charlie makes one big mistake whilst out on a bender.

All of this takes place as troops are returning victorious from the war, the Americans are using the island as a base and the country is approaching independence. It takes a while to attune to the dialect and for these peoples lives to unfold, but it proves to be a thoroughly satisfying story which gets a perfect staging by Michael Buffong. In addition to the ones I’ve already named, there are other great performances here – notably Tahirah Sharif’s sweetly innocent Esther and Burt Caesar’s predatory Old Mack.

A very welcome revival which at last gets the production the writer wanted, sadly when he’s no longer here to see it. Not to be missed.

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