Talawa bring this relativity unknown play which is a vivid portrayal of post war Trinidad slum life into sharp focus at the Theatre Royal this week.
Concentrating on 3 homes and their occupants, Shaw has managed to scrutinise the despair, lack of opportunity and optimism of youth into a small yard, of this supposedly idyllic sunshine island where life is described as “living like hogs.”
The moon watches on as Esther, the young daughter of Charlie and Sophia, stitches a new pattern in her embroidery; breaking away from the norm and the expectation of those around her. She is also a gifted student reciting poetry with a part scholarship for education, where is the rest of the money to come from? Her father Charlie stays out all night drinking and mends cricket bats disillusioned having encountered racism despite being a fine bowler in his youth. Sophia, her mother, is a hard working seamstress trying to keep the family unit together.
Alongside this central family, a local prostitute keeps working, a lecherous landlord expects more than rent from attractive female tenants and Ephraim a trolley bus driver is planning an escape to Liverpool as there is little future for him on the island, despite leaving his pregnant girlfriend.
This a play takes time to uncover the various desperation of the characters, it is slow moving and yet the scenes weave together to create a community struggling in the face of change, the central conflict being the chasm between the unattainable aspirations of the characters and the searing reality of slum life.
Performances are excellent, Tahirah Sharif (Esther) captures the light of a young innocent soul as her mother Sophia (Martina Laird) is broken and weary from the life she has sought to uphold. Jude Akuwudike and Okezie Morro are excellent in their roles, well supported by the rest of the company.