debbie tucker green
Royal Court's Theatre Local
Unit 215-216, Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre
First seen Downstairs at Sloane Square two years ago this is a very appropriate opener for the Court's season in a shopping unit at the Elephant and Castle. I had wondered whether this outreach exercise would find a new audience or just be a different location for people who cross London to see shows in the home theatre. It is very difficult to judge an audience today on their appearance but certainly the ethnic balance did seem different with a great many young black women queuing and worrying whether there would be room for them and for whom this play was an ideal choice.
Its picture of a family: night-working father, mother, daughter at work, son at school, that most ordinary people could identify with. tucker green (this writer doesn't go in for upper case) is excellent at the tensions and uneasy tolerance between siblings and the repetitive reaction pattern across the generation gap but the ethnic element matches this household tragedy to the preponderance of black youths in reports of knife-crime.
She also has a splendid ear for contemporary Black British speech which she presents with the verbal richness of a poet.
This minimalist revival, again directed by Sacha Wares, is now played by Seroca Davis who performs all the characters, a tilt of the head or change of eye line marking the movement of a dialogue and her voices differentiating by pitch and the changing of pattern of speech between those raised in the Caribbean and those born here showing the differences of generation and gender. It is an accomplished and moving performance that combines all the skills of performing character and creating drama with the direct contact of the story-teller, facilitated by the proximity in which it is played.
There is no setting for this production beyond the space. In an empty shop sofas, armchairs, pouffés and dining chairs are lined up and grouped around a small empty square and inside the entrance and it is played against the white blinds which cover the windows on which the shadows of those outside are sometimes seen while the sounds of activity outside a reminder that this girl is part of the real world out there.
Until 27th March 2010 and to be followed by a season of Royal Court Plays. Theatre Local can be found near the entrance to the Shopping Centre marked by the Elephant and Castle totem at the top of a ramp from the Underground station. Go past the first shop and then turn right and it is clearly identified in the windows on your left.
Reviewer: Howard Loxton