Talawa and the National Theatre have collaborated to present Moon On A Rainbow Shawl, a fantastic post war play that is perhaps not as well known as it should be. Written by Errol John and first staged in 1958, it tells the story of a small community in post World War II Trinidad who, despite the glory of the return of their war heroes, still face many hardships.
After a night celebrating the return of the soldiers, matters seem to take a turn for the worse when the local café is broken into and robbed. Sophia Adams (Martina Laird) plays mother to everyone in the small yard and despite having a husband, Charlie (Jude Akuwudike) and children of her own, Esther (Tahirah Sharif) and a baby, she reaches out constantly to her neighbours too. Her neighbour Rosa (Alisha Bailey) has confided a great secret in her; across the street, a young man, Ephraim (Okezie Morro), dreams of a life beyond what he knows. No community would be complete without the noisy neighbour, in this case Mavis (Bethan Mary James), who comes home every night with a different man. Despite their situations, the community vibe does not fail to keep the laughter rolling almost start to finish.
Although post-war tales are well known to audiences, Moon On A Rainbow Shawl provides a fresh new outlook by bringing the colour and warmth of the Caribbean and reminding audiences of how other countries came to the aid of the allies during the war.
Some of the cultural references might go over a younger audience member's head, however the lines are delivered with such perfect comic timing that it doesn't really matter.
Its time at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre is sadly not long enough, but if a funny and heart-warming play is your style then it would be worth finding out where to go see it next.
- Tal Fox