Review: On Monday Last Week

3 star rating
The discussion of immigration from a woman's perspective is important and worthy, even if the play feels as though it needs further work to fully exploit its inherent potential.
On Monday Last Week at the etcetera theatre

Image: asme Productions



Closes here: Sunday 4 February 2018

Author:
Saaramaria Kuittinen, based on the story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Director:
Erika Eva

Cast:

Shireenah Ingram - Kamara

Stephen Bradley - Neil

Natalya Martin - Josh

Koral Neil - Tracy


Synopsis


Kamara has recently moved from Nigeria to the United States, to join her husband after six years of waiting.


She quickly finds out that the dream life her husband Tobechi left for is not there - instead, the engineer is driving a taxi, and they are crammed in a small apartment with poor prospects for the future.


Moreover, Kamara has come to understand that an ocean between her and Tobechi has diluted their passion.


She starts working as a nanny in an eccentric American family with a pedantic health fanatic and a bohemian artist under the same roof, and tries to learn the oddities of the American culture.


Suddenly, Kamara starts realizing that a new exciting desire is crawling into her flavorless life …


Background


Adapted from a short story by award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Director Erika Eva is a Finnish director, performer and teacher.


She has lived in London for over two years now and has recently graduated from East15 MA Theatre Directing programme.


She has since directed two plays in London and she's also the Artistic Director of a physical theatre company Ekata Theatre.


Before moving into directing Erika did improvisation theatre, acting and directing in Finland.


Producer Josephine Samson is the founder of asme Productions Ltd.


Her debut production Tonight I'll be April and follow-up Silent Screams both received critical acclaim, and she aims to continue to produce theatre that evokes thought and emotion.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Tuesday 30 January 2018
Review star rating image for 3 stars

In this four-hander, Kamara (played by Shireenah Ingram) is cast as storyteller, addressing us directly for much of the duration of this short play to tell us about her life.


Kamara is a highly educated, intelligent and capable woman from Nigeria who has landed in America, following in the footsteps of her husband, Tobechi.


In fact, Kamara has been waiting six long years to join her spouse after he left her in their homeland to travel to the USA to kick-start a new and more rewarding life for them.

On Monday Last Week

Photo (c) Josephine Samson


Now she's in the richest country in the world, the only job she can find is looking after the son of Neil, a paranoid man who obsesses over everything he feeds to his child, and artist Tracy who rarely appears outside the confines of her studio.


Disappointed by what life has dealt her and unable to find more appropriate employment to match her undoubted skills and qualifications, and with her marital relationship on the wane, Kamara is trapped in a life 'without feeling'.


But when Tracy suggests Kamara pose naked for her, a new horizon seems to open-up, potentially offering tantalising new experiences.


Small, simple, wooden crates are the main feature of the setting in Erika Eva's production which starts with rather ominous, reverberating and repetitive sounds, suggesting that something extraordinary, possibly menacing or catastrophic, is to happen.


That initial ominous hint of the outcome, though, is never realised, at least not in such obviously extreme terms as the initial sounds predict.


Nevertheless, On Monday Last Week capably illustrates the huge disappointments that can result from migration, with Kamara's career and life - and that of her engineer husband - reduced to little more than a survival existence.


The play also offers contrasting attitudes with Kamara's down-to-earth, commonsensical approach to life juxtaposed with that of the rather zany Neil whose fanatically obsessive and neurotic attitude to parenting provides much of the humour in the piece.


Shireenah Ingram certainly captivates as Kamara, whose hopes are repeatedly raised or dashed, and Erika Eva employs some interesting methods in her direction to commendably cram multiple reactions into some scenes, combining the efforts of three actors to describe one character.


Stimulating and thoughtful though it is in many respects, Saaramaria Kuittinen's play does, however, leave some matters under-developed.


Kamara, though anxious to grasp at any straw to improve her life, seems to read too much into Tracy's invitation to pose for her, even given the differences in culture which the play also aims to highlight.


And Neil's all-consuming obsessions about food and the threat presented by a paedophile living in his neighbourhood, seemed too overdone to be wholly believable (even in a country where obsessions about diet and parenting are apparently taken to ludicrously unnecessary extremes) - a case where a little less might have been a whole lot more.


However, the ambition to discuss immigration from a woman's perspective is significant and worthily relevant, even if in totality the play feels in need of further development to fully realise its aims and exploit its inherent potential.



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