Well, the critics sent me back to the Finborough to see this short Naomi Wallace play set in and out of a women’s prison in the US in the 50′s. We diverge again…..
The play consists of 12 short scenes, alternating between a prison cell in 1950 and a room ‘on the outside’ in 1959 with the same two characters, white Dee and black Jamie. It examines their relationship and their attitude to the world and its attitude to them, their race and sexuality. The inside is tough but the outside’s even tougher and its the outside that breaks them.
The performances – Lauren Crace as young Dee and Sally Oliver as older Dee; Cherrelle Skeete as young Jamie and Cat Simmons as older Jamie – are outstanding. They really inhabit these characters and develop them as well as they can, given the material they have to work with, in such a short time. It’s very well staged by Caitlin McLeod on a simple but effective set by Cecilia Carey which doubles up as cell and room.
My problem with the piece is that it seems unfinished, lacking substance with obtuse dialogue. It tells you a story but not the background to the story or the underlying motivations of the characters and has limited psychological depth. I felt as if it was work in progress rather than the finished article. The title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem, but its connection with the play is beyond me, I’m afraid.
It’s good to be back at the Finborough, though, with new aircon and a bar that’s finally open. Their next show is the London premiere of a 60′s Broadway musical – well, you could never accuse them of being unambitious or narrow in their programming! I’ll be there…. - Gareth James
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