Kiln Theatre, London – until 9 October 2021
Each play in this engaging trilogy is filled with warmth and compassion while highlighting the personal struggles that the characters face in finding a place in which they belong.
It takes a great balancing act to bring together three plays that are filled with warmth and humour while exploring identity, history and the ongoing fight faced by so many to be accepted – but NW Trilogy does this to engaging effect.
Formed of three short plays written by Moira Buffini, Roy Williams and Suhayla El-Bushra – all of which are set in North West London – a bustling part of the city which has such a diverse range of people and stories to tell which in turn is something that the Kiln Theatre is consistently able to do well.
While Dance Floor (Buffini), Life of Riley (Williams) and Walking/Walking (El-Bushra) have been structured in different ways, Taio Lawson and Susie McKenna’s sleek and thoughtful direction ensures that the audience makes the transition between each story with great ease.
From the very beginning, it is clear just how important music is in not only setting the scene but also the way in which it helps to convey thoughts of the characters when words aren’t quite enough. This can be seen through moments such as when Aoife in Dance Floor breaks into a haunting song that captures her loneliness and isolation, while estranged father and daughter Riley and Paulette use music as the way that they are finally able to connect in a meaningful way. The music used through each play offers a deeper way to connect with the characters in an impressive way given the length of the plays.
While any of the plays could be developed further, I found myself being particularly drawn to El-Bushra’s Walking/Walking that is based on true events leading up to the Grunwick dispute. It is a powerful and emotional drama that shows one family’s experiences of adjusting to London life, following Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asian people from Uganda. Through the detailed performances of Ronny Jhutti as Deepak and Natasha Jayetileke as Anjali, the audience is given a real insight into the struggle faced by so many during this period of time – it is extremely raw and powerful play – particularly given the final stunning monologue that gives the audience pause for thought.
While each story is about history, culture and relationships – with the undertones of racism emerging more and more prominently through each play – it is all brought to life with great sensitivity and you come away from each piece wanting to know about what happened to each character after the glimpses we are given here. Each play uses humour to make a strong point and to deliver a warning to us all today that while progress is being made in terms of acceptance of everyone from all backgrounds – we are still far behind in being a tolerant society.
NW Trilogy is a real heartfelt and emotional experience that keeps the audience thoroughly and effectively engaged from start to finish. Certainly three pieces of drama that deserve and need to be developed further.
By Emma Clarendon
NW Trilogy continues to play at the Kiln Theatre until the 9th October.