Debbie Tucker Green
Young Vic Maria Studio
Debbie Tucker Green should come with a warning for Artistic Directors. Do not commission this writer if you want a full evening's entertainment.
Her last play for the RSC, Trade, was less than 45 minutes long but Generations trumps that, lasting around half an hour, if you ignore the welcoming songs.
However, Miss Tucker Green sets out to offer quality rather than quantity and this almost plotless play is a joyous experience that leaves viewers uplifted.
A large choir is dotted around the theatre in an attractive set-up by Miriam Buether, with colourful murals and plastic stools standing in for seats on a floor of red sand, but no serious set as we traditionally know the term. In the centre of this makeshift theatre in the round is a working kitchen and it is here that three generations of a South African family spend their time.
Throughout, they babble with rhythmic poetry about the attractions of cooking and attraction by cooking. The young sisters of the house are entranced by Heshima Thompson's well-muscled suitor for the older girl, played by Claire Prempeh.
After they have bantered about food and love, aided by the whole family, the younger generation melts away and gradually, the middle couple (Michele Austin and Sello Maake Ka-Ncube) do likewise, as do their elders (Nomhle Nkonyeni and Louis Mahoney).
So, not much happens but one can enjoy tuneful singing and incredibly pacy, repetitive chatter with a loving family talking over and about each other. The messages about the pleasures of a simple life are there and get across almost by osmosis. In fact, this is a play about HIV and AIDS, although the subject is never named or directly alluded to.
Generations may not last long but it is impressively directed by Sacha Wares and by briefly transporting you to a South African township, adds up to far more than the sum of its parts.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher