Review: Sundowning, Tristan Bates

I’m never quite sure why I put myself through dementia plays, they upset me like nothing else and yet I go again and again. The latest is Nessah Muthy’s Sundowning, currently showing at the Tristan Bates Theatre and based as it is, in part at least, on Muthy’s own family history, it is achingly done.

Whilst Alyssa has been locked away in prison, her grandmother Betty has faced a different kind of institutionalisation. Suffering from dementia, Betty’s daughter and Alyssa’s aunt Teresa has relocated to a care home to alleviate the strain but once Alyssa is released and discovers this, she sets about organising a jailbreak for her nan. Continue reading “Review: Sundowning, Tristan Bates”

Review: The Host, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Yard Theatre

“She’s white, like us”

Rounding off the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain’s inspired residency at the Yard (read my review of last week’s Blue Stockings here) is a new play from Nessah Muthy called The Host. Picking at the scab of the Brexit vote and the ongoing refugee crisis, Muthy reveals the kind of festering wound that is shocking to see, even as it has infected so many levels of our society and so much of our contemporary discourse.

Yasmin is the most responsible of four half-sisters who are grieving the loss of their mother and the relative security she provided for them on their Croydon council estate. For times of austerity are biting hard and Yasmin finds herself supplementing her job as a cleaner by acting as debt collector for a local loan shark. But it is only when she takes in Syrian refugee Rabea and offers him her couch that objections are raised.  Continue reading “Review: The Host, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Yard Theatre”

Review: Gastronauts, Royal Court

“Brave diners…trust us”

Gastronauts is a self-identified “ theatre adventure with food and music”, a label that calls to mind Lyn Gardner’s timely blog on finding new names for alternative theatre, but the key word that reveals its nature, in my opinion, is devised. Writers April De Angelis and Nessah Muthy with director Wils Wilson have created this show in collaboration with a company of five, and as it explores the not inconsiderable topic of food and our multi-faceted relationship with it, plus serving up a range of varied nibbles to illustrate their point, the 95 minute running time seems scarcely sufficient.

For as the show touches on all of its talking points, there is barely the time to delve into them in anything but the most glancing manner. The catastrophic environmental effects of our more extravagant eating habits, the vicissitudes of the diet industry, the reality of what goes into processed foods like white bread, the profiteering that exploits those who grow much of our foodstuffs and also more benevolent aspects, like the comforting memories that food from the family table inspires in us even as we become adults.  Continue reading “Review: Gastronauts, Royal Court”