‘Tea & manners link throughout’: THE GIFT – Belgrade Theatre & touring ★★★★

In London theatre, Native, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Sticky, Ticket recommendations, Touring by Guest Bloggers

Belgrade Theatre – until 25 January 2020
Then Stratford East & touring
Guest reviewer: Jane Howard, Behind the Arras

This complex play covers a vast but nourishing soup of issues that impact relationships between cultures, races and people in the modern world.

But it kicks off, quite literally, and finishes with the impact of Victorian manners and morality in colonising Africa. Tea, and manners surrounding it, link throughout.

Two Sarahs separated by many generations, 1862 and to the present day, are both faced with situations that are informed by racism.

Sarah Bonetta Davies (Shannon Hayes), living in Brighton in 1862, newly married to James, a self-made man she doesn’t love (Dave Fishley), is the black adopted daughter of Queen Victoria, brought up as a princess, who has been ‘rescued’, ‘saved’ but basically kidnapped and brought to England.

She is ‘The Gift’, reluctantly going back to Nigeria with plans to open an etiquette academy for African girls. She is teaching her new and very scared – and funny – maid Aggie (Donna Berlin).

Mrs Schoen, her ‘mother’ (Rebecca Charles) and two unexpected guests arrive; Rev Venn (Richard Teversen) and Harriet Waller (Joanna Brookes). Mrs Waller repeatedly shocks the rest of the party with her questions and statements to which Sarah must respond…

Read the full review on BehindTheArras.com.
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Guest Bloggers on Twitter
Guest Bloggers
MyTheatreMates welcomes submissions from guest bloggers and other occasional contributors, including theatremakers commenting on aspects of their shows. Please email your suggestions to Mates co-founder Terri Paddock or submit them via our Contact Us page.