REVIEW: LET THERE BE LOVE
Tuesday, February 5, 2008.
By Belinda Otas
Photo by Tristram Kenton
If you think good old traditional family theatre is dead, think again. Kwame Kwei-Armah has resurrected the good old family story with his new play, which he also directed. Let There Be Love is a tale of culture, family, relationships and an immigrant tale weaved together, and set against the backdrop of Nat King Cole’s song by the same title.
Alfred Morris is a West-Indian pensioner with a difference - he is contentious, foul-mouthed, refers to his daughter as ‘pussy hole’ and has terminal cancer. However, his pride and feelings of indifference towards his daughters will not allow him to ask for help.
Luckily for him, his daughters, Gemma and Janet decide to enlist the help of Maria, a Polish immigrant seeking greener pastures in England and works as a house help.
She is keen to learn all about the English way of life and make a decent living. Soon, Alfred realises that he too can be of help to another and be appreciated because Maria gives him a chance he feels he has never been given by his daughters to be there for them.
Through Maria, we begin to see the vulnerability of Alfred and the compassionate side his children crave for but have no access to. Not only does he supply her with the best way to get her landlord to switch the heating on for much longer by providing her with ‘cheap landlord buster,’ he also practices his love of the English language with her. Calling the moments he kisses his teeth as his way of “an articulation of dissatisfaction.”
Kwei-Armah creates an interesting and dynamic relationship between Maria and Alfred which is what keeps the play going; the wittiness and rapport of both characters. It is clear to the audience that they need each other - Alfred needs Maria to listen to his life stories and Maria needs a home when she starts experiencing challenges with her boyfriend. Nevertheless, Alfred will need more from Maria.
Kwei-Armah brings sensitive topics such as lesbianism from an Afro- Caribbean perspective and euthanasia unto the live stage. He treats both subject matters with an understanding that leaves the audience gasping when Alfred gives Maria a run-through of how he intends to end his life. It was theatre pushing its boundaries.
Joseph Marcell brings an art of mastery to his role as Alfred Morris. Lydia Leonard is astounding as Maria, and she gave one of the best Polish accents I have ever heard on stage. Sharon Duncan-Brewster pulls of her role as Alfred daughter, a cross between a tomboy and the feminine side his father used to know.
I was rather getting tired of plays that were too ambitious and you are left wondering what the last hour or two was about at the end of it. Kwei-Armah has delivered with Let There Be Love; it is an absorbing and refreshing play and certainly entertaining.
Written and directed by Kwame kwei-Armah
Designed by Helen Goddard
Lighting by Rachel McCutcheon
Sound Design by Neil Alexander
Choreography by Jason Pennycooke
Cast: Joseph Marcell, Lydia Leonard and Sharon Duncan-Brewster.
Let There Be Love is currently showing at the Tricycle Theatre, London, until February 16, 2008.
For more information visit: www.tricycle.co.uk
Tel: 020 7328 1000.
Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's theatre editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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