Review: Palm Wine & Stout, by Segun Lee-French, Eastern Angles, tours until May 24

Antoinette Marie Tagoe, Itoya Osagiede, Ricci McLeod & Sioned Jones in Eastern Angles Palm Wine & St

Antoinette Marie Tagoe, Itoya Osagiede, Ricci McLeod & Sioned Jones in Eastern Angles Palm Wine & Stout which tours until May 24. - Credit: Archant

If air miles were theatre miles it would be well worth spending them to jet off and see Palm Wine & Stout. Segun Lee-French’s play transports its audience to bustling, dusty Nigeria in the company of Taiye (Ricci McLeod) and his white mother Jane (Sioned Jones). Taiye is in search of his black father Abraham (Itoya Osagiede) and his extended Nigerian family. There is the added complication of wanting to appease the spirit of his dead twin which involves him in the rituals and mysteries of their African village in the company of his half-brother Femi (also played by Itoya Osagiede) who has his own problems and a very different relationship with Abraham.

Ricci McLeod & Antoinette Marie Tagoe in Eastern Angles Palm Wine & Stout which tours until May 24.

Ricci McLeod & Antoinette Marie Tagoe in Eastern Angles Palm Wine & Stout which tours until May 24. - Credit: Archant

Very soon it is apparent that there are distinct parallels between British and African society and that family relationships, whether black or white, are really not that different. Through the rich and effective mediums of music and dance, some of it performed by spiritual ancestors, Taiye works his way through cultural and familial clashes with an air of astonishment, dismay and much humour. It turns out that Taiye is the eldest son although Femi disputes this: ‘I was born first’ says Taiye to which his brother replies that he was merely the emissary for his twin, sent out to ‘taste’ the world.

This is a four-hander but under the direction of Ivan Cutting and in the usual Eastern Angles style the audience meets more than twice as many well-defined characters. Sioned Jones transmogrifies into the portly chief Jonas before our very eyes, and we believe her. Antoinette Marie Tagoe plays both Abraham’s ‘real’ wife Stella, Aunt Cynthia and one of the spiritual ancestors with great skill, imbuing the elderly Aunt Cynthia with a character that would be equally identifiable in an East Anglian or Nigerian village. All the players are musically adept and there are some very good harmonies. Cash in the theatre miles for a good night out.

Carol Twinch

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