Following a smash-hit run at The National Theatre, Nine Night, Natasha Gordon’s ‘remarkable Debut play’ transfers to the West End.
Gordon, also starring in the play, is the first black female playwright to land a play on the West End, and what a timely play and joy it is to watch.
Set in a kitchen, in a family home in London, a Jamaican family celebrate the passing of their beloved mother and grandmother, Gloria. As the title hints, the tradition lasts ‘nine nights’, and rather than mourn for the deceased- the family eat food, dance, and celebrate their loved one’s passing.
This close knit family, is trying to make funeral plans amid tensions between brother Oliver Alvin-Wilson as Robert, who seems more focussed on the price tag of the house and sister Lorraine, Gordon, who has given up the past few months of her life to care for her mother . Amongst moments of sadness, we are filled with comic outbursts as we witness jealous actions and catty comments from Aunty Maggie, Cecilia Noble, as her husband Vincent, Karl Collins reminisces about good times of dancing with their beloved Gloria. Noble, is a huge energy on stage, and contrasts well with her calmer counterpart Vincent.
We also see the lasting effects of the Windfall generation, with the introduction of a half-sister Trudy, Michelle Greenidge, who got ‘left behind’ in Jamaica. Trudy returns to say goodbye to a mother she felt had abandoned her. Greenidge gives us goosebumps, as she comes to the realisation that her mother did in fact ring, to try and get her daughter to join her family when the time was right.
With the smells of the soup cooking, reggae music, traditional dancing, laughter and story telling- Director, Roy Alexander Weise, transports us to the West Indies for the evening. We see how Caribbean roots and a British upbringing come together. (Another lovely touch, is the Jamaican recipe section in the program, compiled from recipes given by the cast.) Ultimately, this is a story of grief, of family, unity and love- something that connects us all.
Images: Helen Murray