Double bill: random and generations (by debbie tucker green)
Minerva Theatre, Chichester
A wealth of theatrical talent, probably unknown to most theatregoers in the south-east, graces the Minerva Theatre until June 2. Chichester Festival Theatre deserves great credit for choosing random and generations, two one-act plays written by debbie tucker green, an Oliver-award winning playwright, who also acts and writes screenplays.
She adapted random into a Channel 4 screen version, which won the 2012 BAFTA award for Best Single Drama. Her work is familiar to audiences at the Royal Court, the Young Vic and the National Theatre, And second coming, her follow-up feature film, won an award in Rotterdam and was BAFTA nominated.
Petra Letang, the star of random, has appeared at the Young Vic, the National Theatre and on Broadway. And she gives a searing solo performance with wit, wisdom and pathos as the oldest daughter in the day in the life of a household, which starts mundanely but ends in tragedy. Amusing take-offs of her parents, her teenage brother and her workmates turn to despair when the family is brought to its knees by a random act of violence. ‘Never trouble trouble til trouble trouble you’ is a memorable line doomed to haunt the story. Terrific.
The first play in the double bill, generations, concerns a South African family, where Mama and Dad, Grandad and Nana, Boyfriend and Girlfriend, and Junior Sister discuss family cooking skills. Characters disappear in turn, starting with the youngest, as the dialogue is refrained in a subtle circular fashion, ripe with nuances.
Cleo Sylvestre (Nana) has also played Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks and Jospehine Baker, and appeared at the NT and in the West End. As a schoolgirl she made a record with the unknown Rolling Stones, and still performs regularly with her blues band, Honey B Mama and Friends. Also watch out for Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo, who made her debut as Girlfriend, Lauretta Essien (Mama) and Derek Ezenagu (Dad).
The director Tinuke Craig, on her Chichester debut, won the 2014 Genesis Future Director Award, and her credits have included debbie tucker green’s dirty butterfly at the Young Vic. The performance is superbly supported by the South African Cultural Choir, who lit up the Minerva with their capella singing and rhythmic Zulu dancing.