Tuesday, 5 August 2014

'Perseverance Drive' Bush Theatre ****

One has often thought about the complicated relationships that religion and self-expression have with each another and, from witnessing Robin Soans’ play, ‘Perseverance  Drive’ clearly in the case that these two factors cannot coexist together. ‘Perseverance Drive’ is set both in Barbados, and in London, which brings together the Gillard’s, who are devout Christians whose wife/mother has recently passed away. Comparatively, the majority of the Gillard’s do not get along, this is evident when Joshua, the middle son arrives, who has been forced out of the family due to the fact he is homosexual and a non-believer to the Christian religion. This is certainly not acceptable within Caribbean culture. One of the most poignant and mesmerising elements throughout Soans’ exuberant script is the relationship between Joshua and his distant and not accepting father, Eli. At first, we perceive the issue of Joshua being gay will, on no occasion be tolerant of this fact, as he's not allowed to stay in his late mother’s home. Nonetheless, when the family are back in England, Eli is incredibly ill, and no one appears to be looking after him, until Joshua takes on the responsibility of caring for his sick father. Eli realises that he must accommodate his son and assertively stands up to her other sons, Nathan and Zechariah when they insist that they’d require an employed person to look after him, rather than their own brother. This instance made one immensely emotive and pleased that Eli sides with his homosexual son, rather on the side of his two homophobic children. Soans’ narrative seamlessly encapsulates the prejudice and stigma that surrounds a culture that's ridiculously old-fashioned and how being artistic is a sign of wickedness. This is conveyed through the scenes between Nathan's wife, Ruth and Errol Clarke, the son of the funeral’s Pastor and how their creativity is ridiculed at all costs. The performances by the company of ‘Perseverance Drive’ were charismatic and excellent. Leo Wringer is wonderful as the father, Eli. One found that the helplessness, when he’s severely ill presented the sadness of a lonely old man. Clint Dyer is sublime as Eli’s gay son, Josh, in particular when he's made to feel isolated from his family because of his sexuality. Frances Ashman is tremendous as Nathan's artistic wife, Ruth. I found when she presented her secretive canvases to Errol (Lloyd Everitt) conveyed her passion for fine art to such tenacity. Of course, the other performances carried a vast amount of precision in their characters. The direction by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director, Madani Younis was intriguing, as we are transported to a family who rarely agree with each other's actions; such as which brother is going to be the new owner of the family estate. This is continued during the entire show. Jaimie Todd's design was immensely opulent as one believed he was in Barbados as the auditorium was extremely sizzling, and then back to the coldness of London, England. Fundamentally, the experience of ‘Perseverance Drive’ was elegantly appealing and you should see it before it closes in two weeks’ time.

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