REVIEW ROUND-UP: Strange Fruit at Bush Theatre

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Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the Bush Theatre’s production of Caryl Phillips’ story of a family caught up between two cultures.

The Guardian★★★★ “We expect plays today to be brisker and shorter, but Phillips’ portrait of a family divided against itself and alienated from the surrounding society still rings disquietingly true.”

The Stage: ★★★★ “All these elements are brought together to gut-wrenching effect in Nancy Medina’s production. Her direction captures all of the different conflicts in Phillips’ play and weaves them together in a way that is potent and affecting.”

Evening Standard: ★★★ “Nancy Medina’s assured revival, on a set looking like a swimming pool that’s been carpeted, boasts exciting performances from Jonathan Ajayi and Tok Stephen as Errol and Alvin.”

British Theatre.com: ★★★ “Directed by Nancy Medina, this is a strong revival of a play that could have benefited from a tighter structure – it runs for three hours including interval.”

The Upcoming: ★★ ★“However, even with some great acting, it’s hard to shake the sense that the three-hour play might work better on paper. That, or in a production more willing to liven up the presentation of its weighty dialogues.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Phillips’ ear for naturalistic dialogue as well as powerful, building monologues is likely as affecting now as it was when Strange Fruit premiered at the Crucible Theatre in 1981. That the Bush is giving audiences the chance to see it again or anew, with this cast, is great, despite the slight inefficiencies of this production.”

London Theatre1: ★★★★ “Directed with confidence and a real focus on storytelling by Nancy Medina, Strange Fruit is a heavyweight play, that, whilst not be for the faint-hearted (or time-pressured, given it is three hours in length), rightfully claims its place within the canon of literature surrounding identity formation and familial relationships.”

Time Out: ★★★★ “Performed 40 years after it was written, it remains a story that reverberates, echoes and expands far outside the theatre walls.”

British Theatre Guide: “The result is a messy play in which unlikely revelations appear at regular intervals. The plotting is as weak as the characterisation in this plodding three-hour-long work that only shines when individuals deliver powerful set piece speeches about the predicament of hated immigrants trying to make their way in a society that does nothing to disapprove of or stamp out casual racism.”

The Spy in the Stalls: ★★★★ “Despite the lengthy playing time of this production, the audience was spellbound throughout, a credit to Nancy Medina’s slick direction.”

Mature Times: “Nancy Medina directs a rare and powerful revival.”

Strange Fruit continues to play at the Bush Theatre until 27 July 2019.

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.

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