Now until May 26th 2018, 7.30 PM @ The National Theatre, Dorfman, London SE1 9PX
As the Windrush generation continue to dominate headlines, a timely new play at the National Theatre invites us into the traditions, tensions and triumphs of a Jamaican family in London.
(Read more about the Windrush scandal here: https://meetingofmindsuk.uk/2018/04/18/children-of-the-windrush-generation-rushed-out-of-the-uk/ / https://meetingofmindsuk.uk/2018/05/11/ss-empire-the-commonwealth-and-the-windrush-scandal-1948-2018-presented-by-kwaku/ )
Family and friends gather in Gloria’s home for nine nights in a row for a traditional West Indian wake to honour her memory. It’s a lively affair, with rum and patties and the kind of close to bone jibes that come with the intimacy of familial bonds.
We see how Caribbean roots and British upbringing entwine, as traditions are learned and passed down from a country that is no longer home. And for most family members, never has been.
It falls upon Lorriane (Franc Ashman) to host and cater for the extended wake. After months of nursing her terminally ill mother, Lorraine’s wiped out and the Jamaican jollity and dances jar with the British aspects of her upbringing.
Her brother Robert (Oliver Alvin-Wise) is too caught up in his own plans to get rich to be much help and her student daughter Anita is trying to negotiate her own racial and cultural identity.
Olivier-nominated Cecilia Nobel (Lady in the Van; Amen Corner, National Theatre 2014) is show-stealingly brilliant as Aunt Maggie, who bustles in with her demands, opinions and patois slang, leaving the audience rocking with laughter.
Over an hour and 50 minutes we witness the mourning process play out from Gloria’s death, to funeral decisions, to the final goodbye. Director Roy Alexander Weise maintains a vibrant production that swells between belly laughs and stifling grief.
Nine Night is a warm and loving immersion into a specific tradition in a particular culture, but it’s the universality that is most striking; it’s about grief in its many guises and family in all its unruly, raw complexity.
Tickets priced £20 – £40, available at the National Theatre