"After all we've suffered together, you still wanna tell me I'm worthless and you are not"
A deft and rich script, Andrea Levy’s sublime testament to the Windrush experience transfers powerfully into a nuanced and unashamed piece of engaging, compelling theatre.
The plot follows two families, from the perspective of two women who drive the plot in their different perspectives on the UK. Hortense (Leah Harvey) is an intriguing and compelling character who develops well. Across from her is Queenie Bligh who is equally driven and the parallel narratives build up well together. The script provides the perfect platform for nuanced and powerful acting from the two leads.
The design elements are thought-provoking, to say the least, and hard to place. There are shades of Brecht, what with projections, a very basic set and direct address, whereas the acting is grounded in naturalism. Costuming and set give us a clear depiction of class and time period, while setting up characters who will fulfil certain roles. Sound design is used infrequently to great effect, with a provocative mix of Jamaican folk and British wartime ‘classics’.
Underneath all this is an unashamed condemnation of the treatment of the Windrush generation, and this is not lost in the transition to the stage. Rufus Norris (Director) lays the groundwork for this excellently and then stirs in the tension and foreshadowing well. It is painful to watch at times, as the lies of Windrush are plain as day in retrospect, and this drives the point home well.
Overall, the culmination of well-developed design, good acting and an excellent script makes for a show that could not be more relevant right now, and will hopefully bring about some conversation and education.
Hidden fire stars 8/10 ⭐️
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