Writer: Janice Okoh
Director: Lyla Smith-Abass
Tiana, Tionne and Tanika are the epitome of independence. Left alone to fend for themselves they’re forced to confront adulthood head on, even though the youngest of them is still only in primary school. Having to hide their newfound secret from their community, nosy teachers and even the local drug dealer is proving to be a struggle – especially when they’re all close to breaking point.
This narrative has a lot of promise, with the scope to be daring and shocking, but it just doesn’t pick up the steam needed to power through to a thrilling conclusion. The first half of the play feels lost, trying too hard to be ambiguous, to the point that the intrigue dissipates into confusion. Too much emphasis is placed on mundane elements of the characters’ lives rather than slowly shifting the focus onto the real heart of the story.
As the story plays out, pieces slowly click into place, but with such an uninspiring beginning, all the tension, excitement and surprise that could have been present, simply doesn’t exist. Pitched as a dark comedy, there are no real humorous moments – subtle or otherwise – and instead comes across more as an unsatisfying fly-on-the-wall evening, watching a random family daydream in their living room about what could have been.
The set design, by Shereen Ali, is fantastic and really redeems much of this performance by truly transporting you straight into the heart of a family home. The small touches, such as the items in the fridge or photos on the wall, bring the room alive and add the warmth that the script lacks.
Both writer Janice Okoh, and director, Lyla Smith-Abass, would be better off making this a shorter, punchier production. The aspects of a darkly unique story are hidden away in too much preamble, so it would be great if they chopped away the ‘filler’ scenes and really showcased the individuality and strangeness that could lead them to a real winner.
Runs until 16 October 2021