“I see a change in this Trinidad”
Moon on a Rainbow Shawl is a 1953
play by Trinidadian playwright Errol John which has rather fallen into neglect,
due to a rough time with contemporary producers who wanted it changed. But
Michael Buffong has unearthed it in its original state for the National Theatre
and given the Cottesloe an intimate Caribbean-infused flavour in this rather
gentle production which I found to be rather enjoyable.
We find ourselves in a run-down
part of Port of Spain where a group of neighbours are introduced to us along
with the travails of their lives, disrupted somewhat by the raucous troops returning from the Second World War, as
some concentrate on getting through the daily grind and others dream of escape.
Two main characters exemplify these differing approaches: Martina Laird’s
empathetic Sophia, a stalwart matriarch figure rooted in this homestead and whose
heart beats for everyone , and Danny Sapani’s Ephraim who is determined to
carve out a better life for himself in England, even as family responsibilities
Their stories are engagingly
told, especially in Ephraim’s scenes with pregnant girlfriend Rosa and Laird is
soul-achingly perfect throughout, but the real joy of Moon... is in the
evocation of the diverse and entertaining community of the town. The crop of
supporting characters are brilliantly sketched out and performed by a cracking
cast: Jenny Jules’ vivacious Mavis is amazing, Ray Emmet Brown and Jude
Akuwudike make a pair of feckless men, Jade Anouka doing excellent work as Rosa
and Tahirah Sharif’s quiet grace as Sophia’s intelligent daughter Esther. So
whilst the pace often flags as the rather predictable story plays out, the
interest is still held by the interplay between this gang.
On the face of it, this kind of
play wouldn’t normally appeal to me – more than one person has described
it as a ‘slow-burner’ – and it took me a while to get around to watching it,
but I have to say I’m really glad I did. Its power and effect may be understated
but sometimes it is the tenderest touches that stay with one the longest.
Running time: 2 hour 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 9th June
Labels: Burt Caesar, Danny Sapani, Jade Anouka, Jenny Jules, Joshua McCord, Jude Akuwudike, Lloyd Thomas, Martina Laird, NT, Ray Emmet Brown, Tahirah Sharif, Trevor Michael Georges