Theatro Technis, London – until 1 June 2019
“Warehousing” people with care needs is the name coined by the Guardian for cutting the care costs bill by the government. Inspired by a real-life experience, Back to Hackney by Panayiota Panteli has been written to reflect the real-life crisis taking place when councils refuse to adapt people’s homes for them to live as independently as they can.
As the cutbacks hit disabled members of the community this is reflected in the heart-wrenching tale of Georgia’s life-changing accident where she is paralysed and left wheelchair-bound, changing the family’s life as they know it.
Twenty-three-year-old Sophia and 19-year- old Alexandra face the reality of becoming their mum’s full-time carer, but only if Hackney Council will adapt her flat to assist her living needs and allow her to use a wheelchair. The same home the family have lived in for the past 20 years.
Sophia’s reaction is one of anger and resentment. In many ways, an understandable response as she realises her own life will now change beyond recognition, and all because in Sophia’s eyes her mother is irresponsible when drunk.
Alexandra, on the other hand, cannot understand her sister’s response and just wants her mum at home. She sets about campaigning to the council and eventually wins to get the adaptations done for them to live together again.
As the situation becomes more intense at times during the play the daughters often descend into bitter arguments and conflicts.
Teresa Taylor’s performance as mum Georgia is outstanding. We see her battle to use the newly acquired motorised wheelchair through the traffic cones, learning to use a spoon and applying her own make-up.
The cast of five offer heartfelt, eye-opening and thought-provoking performances. Panteli’s writing captures you with the uncomfortable truth surrounding cutbacks, the warmth and dedication from the overstretched staff in the NHS and the true meaning of being a family.
Any play that tackles poignant and unjust social issues with this level of conviction and sensitive understanding deserves a lot of credit.
Playing from 22nd May-1st June 2019
26 Crowndale Road