Trafalgar Studios, London – until 9 February 2018
Natasha Gordon has become the first living black female writer to have a play in the West End and what a beautiful, moving play it is. Nine Night follows a Jamaican family as they mourn family matriarch, Gloria, and discover things about themselves, their relationships and grief.
The play looks at the divisions between Jamaican and British culture, modernity and tradition and generational divides. The family dynamic which is so well written, makes each argument and break feel relatable to anyone and subtly gets the entire audience caring for the characters.
Like all good plays, Nine Night has struck a perfect balance between humour and intensity. Rajha Shakiry’s ideally cluttered set is so truthful, with even the hob working as if we’re really watching a real family go about their lives. Roy Alexander Weise has got the pacing spot on and managed to highlight all important moments in a nuanced but effective way.
It’s the believability of the entire show which makes it so wonderful with the astounding cast giving extraordinary performances. Gordon expertly plays the desperate, grieving daughter, Lorraine; Oliver Alvin-Wilson is the brother Robert, who is trying to keep up appearances and maintain success; whilst his white wife played by Hattie Ladbury is facing the issue of feeling at home and the intricacies of adult life in general.
Michelle Greenidge’s Trudy is a masterclass in character growth as she grapples with her own insecurities whilst cloaking them in a larger than life manner. Cecilia Noble is commanding as Aunt Maggie and especially believable as she drops in snide but caring comments here, there and everywhere. As Anita, Rebekah Murrell is particularly entertaining.
This is a truly fantastic, affecting and entertaining piece of theatre that deserves the space its been given plus more.
photo credit: Helen Murray