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Palm Wine & Stout (tour – Ipswich)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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A young man of mixed parentage – English mother, Nigerian father – goes to Africa to re-establish contact with his family there, most specifically with his father. It’s a very different society to his usual one with tribal traditions (including several wives being considered the norm for a man of chieftain rank) and a Christian fervour somewhat at war with both the indigenous culture land that left over from colonial rule.

His mother copes much better than he does. She’s accepting rather than challenging, and knows when it’s futile to try to change either things or people. So this semi-autobiographical play by Segun Lee-French is on one level a rite-of-passage drama. The touring production by Ivan Cutting and Kate Chapman uses just four actors on a simple platform set surrounded by the clothes racks which allow quick costume changes as the players take on a multitude of roles.

Joe Jacobs is good as Taiye who rediscovers his father and half-siblings only for death and its aftermath to intervene. Helen Grady plays his mother Jane with a ferocious double as the local Big Man. Antoientte Marie Tagoe sashays lithely as Stella, the widow who resents his husband’s other attachments and there is a well thought-out portrait of Femi, Taiye’s African brother with a full-scale chip biting into his shoulder by Zackary Momoh.


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