Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Shida (Play Review) Shida (Play Review)
Experiencing trauma as a... Shida (Play Review)

Experiencing trauma as a child can lead to a host of emotional and psychological issues that may not emerge until later in life. These can include depression, anxiety disorder, dru or drug addiction and destructive behaviours. The devastating consequences of sexual abuse on the life of a young vulnerable girl are what SHIDA seeks to reveal.


Based on a true-life story, SHIDA, through a blend of drama and RnB, Jazz and Gospel songs takes us on a roller coaster and often turbulent journey into the life and challenges this sensitive young Black girl from the streets of  Bronx, New York.


Initially a bright fun-loving straight-A student with aspirations of becoming a writer, we see her decline and recovery. Following constant abuse from a so-called ‘Uncle’, sadly with the tacit knowledge of her Mother (who doesn’t want to lose the love of ‘Uncle) she descends into a spiral of chaotic, destructive and self-loathing behaviour.


Unsurprisingly, not only does her low self-esteem lead to her become pregnant with a child she later aborts but also leads her into a ruinous drug addiction a good for nothing boyfriend all which have a disastrous effect on her education and her future aspirations.


But for the timely drug intervention of her closest friend who empowered with the belief that she can overcome her challenges and fulfil her aspirations and full potential the downward spiral to the abyss would have continued.


Jeannette Bayadelle as SHIDA is a compelling and engaging watch. Her ability to switch seamlessly from the heart-wrenching depiction of the main character’s descent into self-destruction to other characters like her school teacher or mother was breath-taking.


It was her capacity to draw you into the lyrics of her songs and her immensely powerful and rousing voice that were the highlights of the show. None too surprising since she has been singing from the age of six and was also a graduate of Manhattan’s high school for performing arts.


Noteworthy of the twenty-three songs in the show were the aspirational ‘When I Grow Up’, ‘I Would Never Tell’ about her decision to keep her abuse a secret, ‘Tony Gotta Go’, the mournful ‘What Kind of God’ and spirited ‘Shida Intervention’ which tells of her breaking free from addiction and the genesis of her recovery.


Praise must also go to Tony Award-winning director Andy Sandberg, who superbly manages to bring Shida’s incredible journey faithfully to life. It was clear from the variety of emotions that he was able to extract from Jeannette that it was the project he not only enjoyed directing but one that was also very close to his heart.


If you’re looking to see a show anytime soon, make it Shida. With a tremendous range of songs that touches all aspects of human emotions and stage performance by Bayadelle to match, this production presently has little competition.


Shida, Till 13 Oct,Lambeth Vaults Theatre,  Leake St, Lambeth, London SE1 7NN, Tickets and details https://www.thevaults.london/shida

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