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A Small Place (Theatre Review) A Small Place (Theatre Review)
A Small Place (Theatre Review)

Did you know that Antigua is 14 miles long by 11 miles wide? This fact is repeated throughout this provocative production of Jamaica Kincaid’s polemic book A Small Place, which I had the pleasure of seeing at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill Gate.

 

As we entered, we saw that the stage is curiously split into four sections with the audience scattered around. This arrangement by designer Camilla Clarke is so unusual that we wait with bated breath to see how the performance would unfold with this unusual setting.

 

Moving constantly back and forth between the sets the two actors Cherrelle Skeete and Nicola Alexis retell this angry book with passion, fluency and a fluid eloquence that made the 90 minute fly past.

 

Cleverly told the eyes of a visiting tourist they recount the devastating impact slavery and its aftermath of colonialism had on this tiny Leeward Island. Tales of the past brutality meted out by the British rulers and their current covert grip on the island through it’s so called ‘administrators’ expressed with wit and lyricism under the skilful direction of Anna Himali.

 

The deep and endemic corruption perpetuated by Government, from the neglect of the island’s infrastructure through the gleaming new cars bought through dealerships owned by the off springs of the political elite to the large hotels and private American clubs gobbling up prime land at alarming alacrity are revealed with dramatic flippancy.

 

The actor’s performances are engrossing and playful using all aspects of the set to full effect. Lines are delivered with richness and truthfulness that you really get a real sense of the plight and daily struggles of the so called ‘natives’ of the Isle.

 

Overall this is an enjoyable if not ground breaking play. Written over thirty years ago, it’s clear that the themes explored have lost some of their potency in the passage of time. Corrupt Governments and the takeover of many Caribbean islands by foreign interests is no longer news and just seen now more of an inevitability. Additionally the constant movement of the actresses up and down the set grew wearisome, it felt at times you were watching a Wimbledon tennis match rather than a play,  and towards we longed for them to just keep still and deliver their lines!

Nonetheless the power of this polemic book that has been described as being similar to The Ancient Mariner in Coleridge’s poem, still remains and therefore its retelling is worthy of retelling and watching.

 

As Jamaica Kincaid says herself in the preface to the book “I could not write about the rot in ‘A Small Place’ today because where I live in ‘A Big Place, where the rot makes my tongue, my fingers, my brain become still.”

 

A Small Place Nov – Dec 1, Bush Theatre, W12 8LJ For tickets and details visit https://ebonyonline.net/event/a-small-place/

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