This came up up from London on tour having had great reviews and an Olivier award nomination and the production had definitely deserved them. When you see something as good as this at a venue where I have seen a fair amount of mediocre stuff over the years it makes you sit up and take notice. It also makes you want to move house. Several elderly Scarborians just couldn’t cope and left early and the house was considerably less than 25% The consolation was that one young girl, probably aged about 14, gave it an excited 11 out of ten and may well be interested enough to come back. I saw Paul Schofield play Prospero at the old Leeds playhouse at around the same age and I have loved theatre more than anything else ever since.
From the point of view of technique this was an amazing show, fast, physical and with a warm heart at its centre. It was pure storytelling, transplanting a Nigerian story into the heart of Louisiana. It took place in a magic circle which Peter Brook would have admired, drawn at the start of the play. A simple tale of a young guy who is fresh out of prison and attempting to make a new start, torn between the influences of his clean living brother and his friend from inside who has also been newly released. The plot stayed away from sentimentality, without sacrificing emotion, and the rawness and speed of the playing style gave it veracity. All three actors, Daniel Francis, Tunji Kasim and Anthony Welsh, were very good indeed and worked together like the wheels in the movement of a pocket watch. It was so fast and beautifully rehearsed. You had to concentrate as it was very much a London play using hip hop vernacular and we don’t hear much of that in North Yorkshire. I loved the use of sound and music, which was skilfully done by Manuel Pinheiro, especially the Try a Little Tenderness section.
A real joy. Much better than we usually get here and I hope that Scarborough’s indifference doesn’t stop the new artistic director giving us more of the same when he arrives after Christmas.