DramaLondonReviewVAULT Festival

Tiger Mum – VAULT Festival, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Eva Eda

Director: Alice Malin

Single mother Constance needs to get her son to the private school on the other side of Kennedy Park. She works double shifts in the betting office to save money for the fees. She begs her son to do well in the scholarship singing competition. She really needs to get him into this school; it’s a matter of life and death.

In this one-woman show Eva Eda is Constance and we first meet her as she announces the fact that she is pregnant to her God-fearing mother. It’s a difficult birth, and in the confusion it’s Constance’s mother who names the child. She calls him Elijah, after the prophet saint of the Old Testament. With such a name, Elijah’s destiny is guaranteed. He won’t, his grandmother hopes, be another fried-chicken-at-the-bus-stop-boy.

The best parts of the play involve this family unit of grandmother, mother and son. Constance and her mother are both black: Elijah is mixed race. Constance knows that she has to work hard if he is to have the same future as a white boy. When the errant father returns he disturbs this close-knit group, and also the equilibrium of the play. Sean is given such a thin backstory with little description that it’s hard to see him as a real fleshed-out character. Eda is better when she plays Constance, or her mother. The schoolteacher, again, is nothing more than a sleepy stereotype.

However, Eda tells the story well, and even manages to deal with the strange second narrative that appears from nowhere in the latter part. This story could be foreshadowed much earlier to soften the abrupt change in direction. But with just a few hoodies hanging from the ceiling, the sense of place and time is clear.

Although Tiger Mum is only 65 minutes, sharper editing could tighten this drama and ensure that the focus remains on mother and child, avoiding the distractions of singing competitions completely. Eda’s careful delivery will hit harder if the show were a little shorter. This tiger mum needs a little more roar.

Reviewed on 14 March 2020

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