Review: Nine Night, at Trafalgar Studios
Powerful family drama offers a rare glimpse into the lives of what has come to be known as the Windrush Generation
10 January, 2019 — By Angela Cobbinah
Cecilia Noble as Aunt Maggie in Nine Night. Photo: Helen Murray
HOT from its sell-out run at the National, Nine Night is a powerful family drama based on a Jamaican mourning ritual. Natasha Gordon’s debut play is, incredibly, the first by a British black woman to hit London’s theatreland and is a delight from start to finish.
Gordon, an actor of some years standing, plays the lead as dutiful daughter Lorraine, who is left to organise the wake – several days of eating and drinking in celebration of the just-departed Gloria. As the guests congregate, the family tensions escalate, leading to a grand showdown.
The potent mix of sibling rivalry and inter-generational clashes are sharpened by the cultural gap between those born in Britain and the Caribbean, that is between those who see the wake in practical terms and those who see it as a way of expediting the spirit’s departure from this realm.
It is a rare glimpse into the lives of what has come to be known as the Windrush Generation, including the little-noticed story of the children left behind in the Caribbean, personified by the fiery but bruised Trudy direct from Kingston, played with all guns blazing by Michelle Greenidge.
But there’s nowt so queer as folk and the play will strike a universal chord, with characters that will be familiar to all, none more so than Aunt Maggie, whose imposing and interfering presence keeps everyone to their toes.
Played to perfection by Cecilia Noble, the role is meant to provide comedic relief amid the grief. Instead it threatens to dominate the proceedings, turning Noble into the star of the show. That’s why the sorrowful denouement comes as a bit of a shock, but only to be expected in the circumstances.
Until February 23
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