Cleo Sylvestre, Derek Ezenagu and Laurietta Essien in generations at Chichester Festival Theatre - Photo Manuel Harlan
Soulful, unique and distinctly African in visual and sound this performance crept up on me and held me tight. I was transfixed.
Firstly let me say that this is a fantastic renewal of two distinct plays by renowned writer debbie tucker green and directed by innovative director Tinuke Craig [read interview], now showing at Chichester Festival Theatre in a double bill. See listing.
Opening with the beautiful vocals of the South African Cultural Choir, the show starts with generations the second named play on the bill. Soulful, unique and distinctly African in visual and sound this performance crept up on me and held me tight. I was transfixed.
In this play, the unnatural cycle of death on this generational family is explored with accents, cooking, repetition and poetry.
The fluidity and cohesion of generational differences was interpreted and communicated with such warmth and clarity that each individual character needed no real introduction as the on-stage chemistry and cohesion played so enthusiastically by this wonderful group of actors was heart-warming and yet so bittersweet. Their story deals with the unspoken issue of the AIDS/HIV pandemic in South Africa causing many of the younger generations to die, but there is never an explicit reason or open labelling of this disease given for the deaths in this beautiful family.
PETRA LETANG in random and The South African Cultural Choir in generations at Chichester Festival Theatre - Photo Manuel Harlan
I can't help but be in awe of the writing and the acting that brought these plays to life for us, the audience
In the next play random Petra Letang [read interview] gives such an amazing performance in her 60 minute set that I was almost bewildered that I didn't actually see five different people on that stage. Instead each of these people whom I felt that I had gotten to know individually, were all played by her, this awesome woman breaking out into different dialects, slang and mannerisms at the flick of her neck.
Death, grief, family, race, acceptance, tragedy and perspective are all heavy yet necessary themes that are dealt with by both plays with such respect, raw emotion, humanity and strength, I find myself thinking about the language that writer debbie tucker green uses and I can't help but be in awe of the writing and the acting that brought these plays to life for us, the audience. This is a heartrending and thought provoking exploration on the effects of death and loss on the family as well as on the individual. I would recommend that you all go and see this production. It is well worth a day out in Chichester and I hope that it will continue travelling across other theatres in the UK and further. This is a play that is relevant to today's youth and across communities. But beware there is strong language so consider bringing older children or teenagers as they need to watch this. We all need to watch this and get another perspective on life and talk about death, a topic we are usually quite hesitant to talk about openly with our loved ones.
Info: random / generations is at Chichester Festival Theatre until 2 June 2018 | see listing | read interview with Petra Letang | EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR AFRIDIZIAK - Get tickets for just £20 for performances until 2 June inclusive (exc Sat eves). To book call 01243 781312 and quote “afridiziak” offer, or book online at cft.org.uk, adding the promo code “afridiziak” to your basket at the checkout stage to receive the discount.