Review: HEART, Brixton House Theatre

Jade Anouka’s warmth and charisma shines through in the poetic journey of HEART at Brixton House Theatre

I am apparently now
Dating again
For the first time
Since becoming
A divorcee
At twenty-eight

Mate! “

Right from the outset, we’re told that though this is a story written and performed by a black woman, it isn’t a black story, nor a woman story, but one for the ‘other[s]’. The convivial and slightly conspiratorial vibe with which this is delivered sets the tone perfectly for writer/performer Jade Anouka’s HEART, for though it is her story, its very specificity allows for an open-hearted universality in its emotional connections.

Her unnamed narrator guides us through a formative decade or so in their life. A marriage to the handsomest actor that is derailed by the onset of his depression; months of sofa-surfing and sexual abandon; a new relationship with a woman which faces its own challenges as she deals with her own mental health, something exacerbated by her family’s reaction to her newfound bisexual identity.

Anouka details and describes all this through an undulating written style which folds in performative spoken word and rhyme along with quieter moments of direct address into its poetry. The show also features a live soundscape from composer/musician Grace Savage whose looped beats and beatboxing add fascinating texture to the production, suggesting just how vital a role she plays in the story.

Richard Owen’s lighting design comes hard with the bisexual agenda, as does the costume design, presuming you know what to look for – otherwise everything is just brightly colourful! And that’s sympomatic of HEART, a safe space created by Anouka and Savage for them to share, for us to listen, for us all to acknowledge that there’s rarely easy answers in life but also a whole lot of pride and joy to be found on the journey.

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