NW Trilogy contains three quick performs with one overarching idea: every attracts on the immigrant historical past of Brent, the London borough during which the Kiln theatre stands.
In Moira Buffini’s Dance Ground, an Irish woman runs away from residence to flee the cultural disgrace of her being pregnant and turns into a cleaner in “County Kilburn”. In Roy Williams’ Lifetime of Riley, a mixed-race teenager confronts the daddy who left residence to pursue his now faltered music profession with Trojan Data. And in Suhayla El-Bushra’s Waking/Strolling, an Indian manufacturing facility employee turns into a “scab” to maintain her household afloat whereas associates stage spirited strikes at Grunwick.
The concept is just like that of Out West, just lately staged on the Lyric Hammersmith and loosely tied collectively by locality. The idea might need confined the fabric or left us skimming the floor of those bite-sized dramas however as an alternative it really works to spellbinding impact. Directed by Taio Lawson and Susie McKenna, and introduced as a part of Brent’s yr because the Mayor’s London Borough of Tradition in 2020, NW Trilogy is highly effective in its storytelling and unified in its spirit, giving us a melting-pot Brent with emotional depth beneath the humour.
The performs are set throughout the 60s and 70s, and we could initially really feel as if we now have seen these characters earlier than: the Irish woman in “bother”, the footloose Caribbean father, the grafting Indian household. However the high quality of writing and the universally excellent solid (with the actors doubling up in components throughout the three performs) give them fierce life.
Music and music options in every play, with beautiful composition and sound design by Ben and Max Ringham, and the musical interludes have a crisp, clear energy, whereas Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey’s ethereal set (a phone field right here, an Enoch Powell poster there) speaks eloquently with its financial system.
A beautiful Irish music is sung solo by the cleaner Aoife (Claire Keenan) within the first play, by Buffini, which has a beguiling romantic twist and a properly crafted script (London’s sky is the color of tea and the abortionist that Aoife visits has eyes like rocks).
Williams’ heart-wringing Lifetime of Riley is the strongest story of the night time. Paulette (Concord Rose Bremner) is a powerful, prickly and barely misplaced teenager assembly the daddy, Riley (Chris Tummings), who deserted her mom years in the past to comply with his love of performing reggae music. Their exchanges are onerous and unyielding – she refuses to forgive, he to really feel responsible – till a flaring connection via music. Bremner and Tummings sing as sensationally as they act, and the writing captures the philosophical rigidity between household obligations and private freedom with nuance. Each father and daughter tales are introduced out with delicacy, and with no remaining judgment of both.
El-Bushra’s story of the Grunwick manufacturing facility rebellion over poor working circumstances, and the dynamism of the Indian girls from east Africa who mobilised to make it occur, is tethered to the household lifetime of Anjali (Natasha Jayetileke), whose husband desires her to maintain her head down and stick with it working. It feels clunkier than the 2 tales that come earlier than, with Goodness Gracious Me-style comedian characterisation at occasions, however is an impressed excavation of an area story with a rousing musical ending.
There are heavy helpings of sentimentality and a roaring romance throughout all three performs however with an emotional fact inside. Every accommodates the potential of a bleak ending however that is averted rather than hope and celebration of immigrant life. It’s theatre with a giant, heat coronary heart.