Pepper and Honey – Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

Writer: Kristina Gavran

Director: Tilly Branson

Reviewer: Hannah Powell

What is home when you are torn between upholding tradition and family and your own self-expression? Do you make the decision to pack everything into boxes and move your life once again for the sake of other people’s happiness, or do you stay knowing that the majority consider you unwelcome? Notnow Collective presents Pepper and Honey, the story of one woman’s journey of change in the wake of Brexit Britain.

We are taken on a journey of self-discovery as Croatian born Ana makes the important decision of whether she should stay in the UK or leave, conflicted by her inability to completely adopt this country’s quirks and her duty to the ‘old country’. Her failure to decide leaves her plagued by the voice and memories of her grandmother, still waiting for her after twelve years, still determined to bring her back. Ana’s life is left in limbo as her application of settlement hangs in the balance.

Written by Kristina Gavran, this incredibly poignant play presents a perspective that many would not have given thought to.  Those of us who are UK native have a lot to think about in the wake of Brexit, what with the unpredictability of its potential consequences. However, how does our decision affect those who, although having not been born on British ground, have positively contributed to their communities and the UK economy for potentially even longer than some of us have been born?

Tina Hofman has the difficult task of embodying both Ana and her grandmother on stage. She appears to effortlessly bring the necessary dynamism and movement to her roles that bring the characters to life, inviting the audience into their homes. She invites members of the audience onto the stage, sharing her recipe for life with outsiders in her native tongue. We listen to her stories, we bake with her, and as such are adopted into her family and traditions. The amount of pure unfiltered emotion she displays is incredible.

Everything in the play comes back to her grandmother’s recipe for life, embodied in her recipe for pepper biscuits. Life must be both sweet and spicy, it must stay with you for a moment after each bite and create a symphony of happiness in your mouth. When I saw a preview of the play in Derby in March 2019 the audience wasn’t given the opportunity to partake in this delicacy. Now, however, audiences can sample the delight made from the previous performance as the show tours.

The play embodies the thoughts and feelings of an incredible period in British history,  a time filled with a lot of anger and resentment towards those we consider outsiders waiting in purgatory as we await of the effects of the decision, we as a country have made. It is a beautifully written story which flows fantastically from one perspective to the next. A story of new beginnings, loss, and the sharing of cultures.

Reviewed on 16 November 2019                                                Image: Fernando Photography

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Beautifully written

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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