Search

After Independence, Arcola Theatre, review: ‘Echoes of Chekhov’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 May 2016

Stefan Adegbola and Peter Guinness in After Independence. Picture: Richard Lakos

Stefan Adegbola and Peter Guinness in After Independence. Picture: Richard Lakos

Archant

This beautifully crafted play is about the rights and injustices of the seizure of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe by war veterans.

Vast tracts of Zimbabwe’s most fertile land have been owned for centuries by the white settlers and their descendents who know no other home. After independence, which seemed to promise so much, black people remain poor and landless. Don’t they have rights too? White minority rule didn’t work but black majority rule isn’t either. Max Dorey’s elegantly minimalist set combining a farm interior and exterior, provides a quiet background to the turbulent flow of human emotions as four people argue with passion, rage, claim and counter-claim.

They are the mother, father and daughter who live on the farm, and the black civil servant compelling them to sell it.

Four consummate actors give impeccable performances, the dialogue never flags and the audience’s attention is absolute.

Kathleen, the mother, sensitively played by Sandra Duncan, is clear-thinking and insightful, but, as a woman, has no voice. Her opinion is never consulted, her situation compared with that of black people: she is consequently frustrated and depressed. Sensitively played by Sandra Duncan, she’s at once the strongest and the most helpless. Daughter, Chico, hates her mother and makes no secret of it.

Played by Sandra Dunn with extraordinary aggression and energy, she believes, like her father, that to be strong is everything. Right, she is certain, is on their side.

As father Guy, Peter Guinness plays has huge presence and authority, undermined by the secret knowledge of his weakness, physical and psychological.

Stefan Adegbola, as Charles, has the most difficult task of portraying a naturally kindly and tolerant man convinced of the absolute necessity of his task.

He is all too aware of the obduracy and the suffering of the whites. However, in the great scheme of things, the land belongs to no-one. People come and go, cultivate it or let it go.

The rage and suffering of human beings is as nothing.

George Turvey directs with impeccable timing and understanding, supported by Richard Hammetton’s menacing sound design, the play reaches its inevitable depressing conclusion.

However, Chico’s final speech expresses hope for Zimbabwe’s future and for all humanity. Not for the first time during the evening, I heard echoes of Chekhov.

After Independence is at the Arcola Theatre.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

08:00

In an article from our ‘Year in Sport’ pullout, the other teams in the Six Nations have their chances previewed

09:58

Police want to speak to this man after a woman was sexually assaulted while walking home from a night out in the Finsbury Park area.

Yesterday, 18:30

Everton have completed the signing of Theo Walcott from Arsenal in a deal worth £20 million on a three-and-a-half year contract.

Yesterday, 18:03

Shedding further light on illegal schools remains a chief priority for Hackney Council in the face of criticism from the Jewish community.

Yesterday, 15:31

When I gave up meat as a first-year student, I did so not just because of nascent first-world guilt about the environment and factory farming, but because it was cheaper.

Yesterday, 15:00

Spurs have won eight of their last 10 games in all competitions and suffered just one defeat during that period - at the Etihad last month

Yesterday, 14:30

The team at Newington Green’s popular Alma has opened a new pub, Be-Bop-A-Lula, in Green Lanes. It’s great. James Morris isn’t surprised.

Yesterday, 13:02

In an article from our ‘Year in Sport’ pull-out, we look back on Leyton Orient’s 2017 and explain why this year provides renewed hope



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists