Black Women are the focus of the second of two double bills in Bunker Theatre’s inaugural This Is Black Festival: black women in all their gorgeous, fierce, tender, angry, loving and occasionally problematic ways.
First up is the Spyce Collective’s Pyneapple – the answer to Barber Shop Chronicles we women have been waiting for. Melissa Saint and Chantelle Alle’s piece swaps the barber shop for a struggling London salon where friends and frenemies Maya (Amba Rose Mendy), Raye (Elise Palmer), Erycah (Melissa Saint) and Lauryn (Odera Ndujiuba) routinely gather to talk about love, sex, money and gentrification.
Cassie Kinoshi’s sparse sound design doesn’t always match the energy of the piece and the script at times feels tentative but Abigail Sewell’s assured direction provides balance and, overall, the performance is carried with delicious chutzpah by the ensemble.
For Teleportation by Ronke Adékoluejo, Sandra Falase’s design replaces the salon chairs in their open cube frame with a bed and a bath to create a cramped studio flat.
Antonia Layiwola is brilliantly captivating as Anuyin, the overworked and underpaid carer who’s been lumped with racist patient Gary (Lee Ravitz). The pair’s rollercoaster relationship comes to an abrupt end when Gary unwittingly reveals a past event that binds them.
This is a strong writing debut from Adékoluejo, who gave an alluring performance as Camae in the Young Vic’s 2016 production of The Mountaintop.
These fresh-off-the-page pieces are full of raw talent.