'Shebeen', 21/06/2018; a review.

22 June 2018

I was thrilled to attend the press night of ‘Shebeen’ at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, last night – and equally excited to take the lovely Jo, my fellow theatre fanatic, along with me.  

Source: Stratford East
It’s a hot and humid summer in 1958 St Anns, Nottingham. Tempers are flaring and Teddy Boys are on the march. Jamaican couple Pearl and George are helping Caribbean migrants to cut loose by hosting a forbidden party at their Shebeen. Pearl has dreams of opening a restaurant on the Wells Road. George, a retired boxer, has hung his dreams next to his gloves. A young interracial couple are falling in love and figuring out how to be together.
As tensions mount on a night filled with rum, calypso and dancing, and with the Shebeen under threat from the police, everyone is forced to confront the uncomfortable truths their relationships are built upon.
(Source: From the Box Office)

This production, originally written by Mufaro Makubika, was directed by Matthew Xia. It starred Karl Collins as George, Martina Laird as Pearl, and Rolan Bell as Ernest. (also, this particular night’s audience was pretty heavy with stars; Lenny Henry and Sam Barnet, to drop a couple of names!) 

Source: Stratford East

Source: Stratford East

I’ll admit, before going in I was a little apprehensive to sit in the dress circle. In my experience, the dress circle can go either way in the West End; sometimes it’s good, if you’re right in the front anyway, and sometimes your nose bleeds and neck strains when you’re up the back. However, at this particular theatre I really thought I had the best seat in the house – we got a fantastic view, and the general feel in the space was close and cosy. The set was vivid and used to its full potential by the whole company. 

Source: Stratford East

The whole cast were gorgeous and their characterisations were spot on – I fell madly in love with their accents right from the first scene when Pearl is chatting with a police sergeant and alarming him quite a bit with her friendly manner (undercut with sass). I'll be honest, Pearl may have been my favourite  full of humour and wit throughout, but also deeply caring for each of her friends and, of course, her little family. 

Source: Stratford East

'Full of tenderness and joy. The production is electrified with tension. A knockout.' 
- The Times

Source: Stratford East

'What an atmosphere... Couldn't feel more timely.' 
- Exeunt Magazine.

Source: Stratford East

'The sheer power of Makubika’s work shines through.' - British Theatre Guide.

Source: Stratford East
You can listen to the play's playlist HERE.
This fantastic production will be rocking Stratford from the 20th of June until the 7th of July. Get your tickets now, at From the Box Office!
Evening performances start at 7.30pm, matinees at 2.30pm.
Age guidance: 14+ (some strong language and violent scenes)

Access performances: 
Captioned: Thursday 5 July, 7.30pm. BSL interpreted: Friday 6 July, 7.30pm. Audio described: Saturday 7 July, 2.30pm.

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