‘It couldn’t be more relevant’: LEAVE TAKING – Bush Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Shanine SalmonLeave a Comment

Bush Theatre, London – until 30 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Esmee West-Agboola

The timeless classic, Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock, revived at the Bush Theatre is a marriage of captivating performance and unapologetic text, at a time when it couldn’t be more relevant.

The narrative follows the relationship of Enid (Sarah Niles) and her two daughters Del (Seraphina Beh) and Viv (Nicholle Cherrie). The audience witnesses their navigation of first and second generation, cross-cultural identity in westernised England.

Madani Younis’ direction facilitates a seamless comic timing to the text. This, boldly underpinned by an exploration of the complex realities of black womanhood and cross-cultural heritage. Pinnock’s close interrogation of what it means to belong becomes particularly visible in the second act, where a more reflective tone reaffirms the importance and relevance of this story, in light of the recent Windrush saga.

What makes this play compelling is the inclusion of multiple female perspectives, channelled through the characterisation of the cast. Niles’ dynamic performance displays the emotional unfolding of an initially concealed Enid. This, matched with the equally electric energy of fellow protagonists, reinforces the great impact of Pinnock’s writing.

The Bush Theatre proves the perfect venue to programme Leave Taking. The play itself is performed in the round, enabling the energetic, intimate atmosphere that Younis’ direction demands. There is, at times, a feeling that we as the audience are a part of the scene itself, given the half dimmed light in the auditorium complementary to the plainness of the set. This facilitates a more shared, immersed and communal experience in our witnessing. Arguably, only achieved by a venue as aware and responsive to audience experience as the Bush.

Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.
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Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.