Saturday, 12 October 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Windrush Women: The Backbone Of The NHS - Z-Arts Centre, Manchester.



‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ – a powerful phrase that was repeated throughout the production.

An empowering and celebratory play from the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust about the women who travelled from the Caribbean to England in the late 1950s and early 1960s in search of better lives as nurses within the NHS. The themes in this production were clearly important to the people of Manchester, as the 222 seats in the theatre were sold out. A project filled with passion; both from the cast and crew, and also the spectators.

The production itself was not quite as expected. Billed as being 90 minutes long and suitable for ages 11+. However, after beginning a little late, the show ran for 50 minutes with no interval and it seemed to me as though this production was aimed at young children of Primary School age with the language used and the information given. It was good to therefore see so many young children in the audience, despite the suggested age restriction.

This being said, it was a well-received play in which the audience happily joined in with the singing and audibly laughed along when appropriate. Full of life, laughter and music; this female-driven play was directed by Magdalen Bartlett-Luambia, who did well to fill such a large stage space with only a few actors and minimal props or set. The four female actors (Nicola Gardner, Dorretta Maynard, Jemima Sofini and Michelle Tlhabologang) also performed well, captivating their audience from the outset. The chemistry between the four actresses was strong here, seeming to reflect a true family of four generations.

However, I feel the production would benefit from further development, particularly of the characters and their stories. I wanted this production to tell me more about the Windrush Women that I had previously known so little about. We only really met the four characters towards the end of the performance, and their encounters seemed a little rushed. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this performance, I just wish it had gone on for longer.

Reviewer - Megan Relph
on - 11/10/19

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