I revisit debbie tucker green’s random, this time on screen, 13 years after seeing it onstage, and am still blown away by Nadine Marshall’s talent and the delicious Mariah Carey shade
“Never trouble trouble til trouble trouble you”
debbie tucker green’s play random has a special place in my heart as it was the first show I ever saw at the Royal Court, back in 2008. I may have liked rather than loved it at the time but the urgency of Nadine Marshall’s solo delivery lingered long in the mind, particularly in the way her performance encapsulated several members of the same family, first going about their daily business and then reeling from a traumatic shock, a random act of violence.
tucker green directs her own adaptation here and finds an intriguing way to blend that monologue form with a wider visual representation of the world it depicts. Marshall returns as Sister, who once again inhabits all the dramatis personae of the story, but tucker green intersperses her backstage-set delivery with on-location shots featuring those characters, sometimes even letting them speak their own lines.
So the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Jay Byrd and Louis Mahoney round out the family, and Dawn Hope, Richie Campbell, Azuka Oforka, even an uncredited Letitia Wright pepper the South London shops, schoolrooms and offices we visit. It’s a canny way of widening out the scope of random without losing any of its intimately-felt pain, tucker green’s linguistic talent combining the prosaic and the poetic in its British-Caribbean patois and taking the time to brilliantly shade Mariah Carey at her most mawkish.
And Marshall is exceptional, giving the kind of performance that makes you wonder why she isn’t heralded as a much bigger star. You’ll chuckle with recognition at much of her dry obervations about everyday life, you’ll struggle not to weep with her heart-wrenching exploration of how that world is irrevocably changed.