Creating a play with the perfect blend of emotions to flow through the audience is a tricky feat. A 'Place For We', written by Archie Maddocks, articulates this to a tee. Playing at the Park Theatre- a lovely little venue- it is essential you see this show this autumn.
Being transported into 'Nine Nights Funeral Directors', there is an instant feel of contrast to that expected, when Keron, played by Laurence Ubong Williams, begins dancing about on the job. Shortly afterwards, we are greeted by Clarence- an outspoken Trinidadian, portrayed by David Webber- to set things straight, and their turbulent father and son relationship begins to be established. Fuelled with passion, it is often an occurrence that Clarence has an outburst regarding the running of his business, and the importance of tradition for his community. In contradiction, Keron is desperate to bring his fresh interpretation to the place, in order to reflect the societal changes and needs of modern day Brixton. This necessity becomes evermore evident when two customers (played by Blake Harrison and Joanna Horton) are searching for a service differing from the usual clientele of the directors, subsequently being driven away, and leaving funds dwindling. With himself and his playful girlfriend, Tasha (Kirsty Oswald), about to have a baby together, it is even more essential that the fate of the business finds its resolution.
As act one slows, once the characters and setting have become familiar to the audience, a change of scenery occurs, as the second act begins. Though following the same themes, it is not immediately obvious just quite how cleverly crafted this composition is, as the timeline begins to pull together, and the audience start to understand how each piece of the narrative is interwoven. Now in a pub, the owners, George and Anna O'Driscoll (played by Blake and Joanna respectively) are selling up, and exploring their history with the place before they leave. Here, Clarence is pictured as a child, played by Harold Addo, and enters with his father, Elmorn (David Webber). Finally, the place is decked out as a newly opened enoteca (a wine repository, run by Angus and Esme who are represented by Blake and Kirsty), to illustrate the changes that one building has faced over generations, and the common search for community within London. There are many subtle links to the Windrush generation, and identity in general is largely significant, which includes a further dynamic that allows the show to always remain relevant.
Despite the lack of overly exuberant set, this ties in well with the simplicity of the space that poses a neat juxtaposition for all of the intricate memories formed, all under the same roof. Each prop has been carefully placed, and fittingly depicts the scene given, and alongside the theatre layout, gives a more immersive experience. In addition. the programme is included with the play script, which is a beautiful complement to the piece.
Amongst the heated family feuds, poignant moments, and those of joy, the play is littered with funny elements to be enjoyed, that allow for subjects like grief to be viewed and interpreted in an open way. Each and every line is delivered with purpose, and adds to the last, overall creating a masterpiece of theatre. 'A Place For We' is extremely witty, and will leave you discovering and pondering on layers of the story hours later.