REVIEW: HOUSE OF AGNES
By Belinda Otas
Tuesday, March 25, 2008.
My mother’s motto has always been and still is: ‘If you live under my roof, I'll clothe and feed you, and pay the rent, but you must live by my rules.’ Levi David Addai has successfully captured what has long been the conservative tradition of British-African parents on the London stage in his new play, House of Agnes.
An exploration of the British-African way of life, Addai brings to life, the challenges of a single mother from two conflicting cultural perspective.
Agnes has lived and worked in England for the last 40 years, but has decided it's time to go back home to her native Ghana. However, she must get her sons, Solomon and Caleb to agree on living together in peace, and do as she wants. This sets them on a course of collision, because these are two young men with a mind of their own and want to be free of Agnes’s control.
Solomon wants to make his own decisions and at the same time, wants his mother to accept his girlfriend, Davina, who Agnes dislikes and refers to as ‘Jezebel.’ Needless to say, her resentment is unfounded.
Caleb on the other hand, appears to have his life in order in comparison to Solomon, whom he considers to be ‘reckless.’ While he is happy to please his mother, he also wants to be free of her control.
Their differences set them on a path of sibling rivalry. Though they want to be able to lead their lives on their terms; they also crave their mother’s acceptance and to a certain degree, approval.
Cecilia Noble delivers a brilliant performance as Agnes, the Matriarch, who worries more about her precious white carpet than the feelings of her sons. Nevertheless, she is not afraid to lay down the rules or let people know that she is from the ‘old school'. Ludvig Bonin and Anwar Lynch shine as two young men who can rise up to the task and bring intense moments alive on stage.
House of Agnes is a clever, tender and accomplished examination of clashing traditional and cultural values one family has to face up to, which is reflective of the wider society.
Addai shows family tension through all of his characters, and you are able to relate to each one as they make their case. A testament to this playwright’s understanding of traditions, cultures and the gap that exits between generations in modern Britain.
Image: Mark Brenner
Written by Levi David Addai
Directed by George Perrin
Designer: Hannah Clark
Lighting Designer: Chahine Yavroyan
Production Manager: Robert Holmes
Stage Manager: Jemma Gardner
Sound Technician: Giles Thomas
Design Assistant: Poppy Lozynski
Cast: Cecilia Noble, Anwar Lynch, Ludvig Bonin, Sheri-An Davis, Adam Deacon and Catherine Bailey.
House Of Agnes is currently showing at the Oval Theatre until March 29, 2008.
For more information, visit: www.ovalhouse.com
Box office: 020 7582 7680
Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's features and theatre editor. She can be reached at email@example.com
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