brixton stories – go see it

Went out last night with Michael O over to Hammersmith to see Jana’s play (he is the producer) at the Lyric. I didn’t really know anything about the play other than a little exerpt from Time Out.

Making his directorial debut, award-winning writer, poet and playwright Biyi Bandele casts his magic over this vibrant journey through the streets of Brixton.

That description leaves much to the imagination obviously. But as it was a friend’s work and said friend is leaving in the next few days after being exiled back to India, I felt I should go and show my support.

And I defintely got more than I bargained for and certainly more than that the face value of the tickets worth. I was completely blown away by the performances and the writing. Basically I sat mesmerised for the entire 75 minutes in a state of pure entertainment. I left the theater feeling that I have somehow been missing out by not spending enough time in London going to live performances.

I also came away with a feeling of disgust for the fact that Hollywood can charge me £10 to go see some stupid blockbuster while these talented actors were sweating it out night after night for a mere £7 ticket in a little theater. Where is the justice in that?

I guess you can make it all right if you take your £7 and go down and support them. So please do if you get a chance. You will thank me for it.


From This is London who gave it a 4 out of 5 star rating:

Welcome sorbet of life’s gentle richness
By Fiona Mountford 07.09.06

The Autumn theatre season, with its inevitable helping of dramatic trials, trauma and tragedy, will soon be in full swing. Before we take the plunge, the Lyric offers a welcome palate-cleanser, a sorbet of a play. Among its many attributes, Biyi Bandele’s snapshot of south-west London life includes an uplifting portrayal of pure, uncomplicated family happiness. When did you last see that on stage?

One of the first lines announces that Ossie Jones, immigration lawyer and father to Nehushta, is dead. In the subsequent 75 minutes, however, he is gloriously alive, as he and his daughter wander their home streets. Yet before we can get too involved with this compact family unit (wife/mother Kate died in childbirth) the four-strong cast winningly introduce us to a kaleidoscope of local colour.

There’s Mr Bill the wordmonger, for example, who charges 10 pence per word and reports that “one man bought a paragraph as a birthday gift for his wife”. Bandele’s own words, adapted from his novel The Street at the original behest of the RSC, are elegant and lyrical, and the whole piece has the feel of a modern-day epic poem. Characters speak their parts and also narrate; Troy may not be sacked or Rome founded, but life’s richness is gently unfolded.

Just occasionally, Bandele, who also makes an assured directorial debut, saddles his actors with a line that must surely work better on the page than stage. “The syncopated silence of selective amnesia” is not a phrase you are likely to hear repeated between now and Christmas.

There is also a strange interlude in which Ossie experiences what we take to be a Kafkaesque nightmare. It turns out to be a coma. Nevertheless, it’s worth enduring just to witness his tender closing scenes with Nehushta.

Geoff Aymer makes his Ossie a good man prone to occasional befuddlement, and he is joined by three promising recent drama-school graduates. Sheri-An Davis, who had me entirely fooled in her initial guise as a Monster Munch munching audience member, displays particular versatility in her multiple roles. Come enjoy the perfect fairy-ish Stories for the darkening nights ahead.