By Bryony Rae Taylor
She Is A Place Called Home explores how two sisters simultaneously support and frustrate each other as they prepare for their Dad’s controversial second marriage, which is not good news for his current wife, their mother.
The sisters, played by Jordan Noel and Nicole Acquah, navigate the turbulent path of young adulthood with a plethora of obstacles contributed by their [unseen] family. Noel’s character is haunted by an unshakable eating disorder; Acquah’s is exhausted under the weight of supporting her sister with her illness whilst also managing the family’s money as their financial stability is under threat. She pleads for honesty from her sister to aid her recovery, whilst contrarily hiding things in a bid to protect her.
The play cleverly intertwines its labyrinth of struggles. Layla Madanat’s direction heightens the sense of isolation the young women live within: it feels as though they have fallen through a hole in an icy pond, and whenever one strives to claw their way up to reach some air they are pulled back into the abyss. The Cavern venue in the Vaults is a particularly unforgiving space, and it often swallows the actor’s lines whole, but Madanat’s direction eases the sisters into all four corners of the room. This helps set some parameters and to make the space less, well, cavernous.
However, the intricacies of the play are depicted with absolute clarity. The pain of trying to maintain a sense of family whilst it falls apart is so tangible, and it’s communicated by interweaving aspects of Nigerian culture. Despite their dad making some pretty hurtful decisions which impact the sisters, they keep learning the traditional dance he wants them to perform as his wedding and summon enthusiasm over what to wear on the day. It’s an emotive cross-section of responsibility, which excavates cultural and familial values side-by-side.
She Is A Place Called Home is a powder-keg of a play, with a barrage of triggers threatening to set it alight.
She Is A Place Called Home runs through 8 March.
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