Very well acted. Staging imaginative, but what was the content? Rather like a Trinidadian 'East Enders' - PN Ruane
19 Apr 12
I'll admit I'm not an expert in Trinidadian accents of the '40's, but I'm not at all scared to say that this production is wholly convincing and wonderful. Yes, it's intricately observed, and for some that will mean it's uneventful and slow, but it's heartfelt and touching, and the characters are well-defined and portrayed. The set is a little too attractive to be the hellhole it is described as being. The fact that there is only one outside tap is the only reason I wouldn't want to live there myself. Unlike the previous reviewer, I found Danny Sapani's performance as angry Ephraim to be wholly believable (albeit physically perhaps a little too fat to be as magnetic to the girls as he is), caring, yet utterly ruthless in his determination to escape his roots. Not one actor emitted a false note, not Martina Laird (brilliant), not Jenny Jules, not Tahirah Sharif, not Jude Akuwudike. I think Errol John would have been very proud of this production, and I was very moved. - steveatplays
28 Mar 12
It seems like people are scared to give an honest critique of a black production for fear of being accused of racism or not being open... The fact is, this play was very slow, the casting was overly ambitious in a unrealistic kind of way and the leading Actors look armature at best namely Danny Sapani and Jade Anouka.
Michael Buffong or Wendy Spon (Head Casting Dir National Theatre) were not brave in their decision to cast the part of Ephraim and chickened out by hiring someone with "experience", I think it was a gamble not worth taking as it did not pay off at all.
Martian has issues with playing black women with any kind of class and always opts for the obvious choice of playing them with such low status. She however having been the only native trinidadian gave the best accent the rest were questionable on a large scale.
As the casting was so off across the board I think it failed miserably, but the story itself is a good one. So I give it a 1 star just for that. I fear the same nonsensical theatre especially when it comes to black theatre if people like Wendy Spon and Michael Buffong don't get creative and cast properly and give our younger Actors an opportunity to carry what should and so easily could have been a beautiful play. - Minds Peak
17 Mar 12
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. - Gareth James
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