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Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.House of Agnes
Verdict: Mother of all battles
What is it about mothers and their sons? Is it really true that the more closely a mother attends to her duty, the worse the outcome is likely to be? Or is it just that bringing up boys in a city like London is always going to be a thankless task? Writer Levi David Addai draws the combative, playful and sometimes hurtful relationship between brothers well. But that's a secondary theme; his primary focus is on the extraordinary and complex bond that links sons to their mother, a relationship which is often seamed through with guilt, anger, love, nostalgia, regret and hope.
Agnes (Cecilia Noble) is the single mother of two young adult sons (she drove the father out years ago, according to one of them), and now having 'run the good race and fought the good fight', she is returning to her native Ghana, leaving behind her the South London house where she has brought up her family. She is leaving a legacy, although without a death, and naturally, she wants to leave everything in order. The complications are that her elder son Solomon (Ludvig Bonin) has gone off to live with his girlfriend, Davina (a feisty Sheri-An Davis) and Agnes does not approve. Her other son, the fitness-fanatic Caleb (Anwar Lynch) seems to be climbing the ladder of success, but he hasnt told Agnes of his relationship with Michaela (Catherine Bailey), the girl in human resources who hired him into the City firm where he works. Can Agnes entice Solomon back? Would the two brothers gently nudged perhaps into relationships with safe and successful girls ever live in harmony? Will the legacy be the making of the two or will it spark their downfall?
The drama is presented in the round with the audience almost in Agnes's house, which gives the play an intimate atmosphere. Perhaps also it puts an extra burden on the actors who have to do their stuff in and amongst those watching - great for anyone who wants a close view of how actors work. Designer is Hannah Clark. The play runs for about 90 minutes, without an interval, and has a lot of funny as well as some poignant moments. There is a good pace about the writing too, and the changes of scene - from house to street to the chip shop where Solomons friend Mehmet (Adam Deacon) works are punctuated with some carefully chosen music. House of Agnes comes across as a very competent production, but never quite gets into the sparkling category, and it's not immediately obvious why this is. It's perhaps partly because Agnes isnt disconcerting enough to get into that really alarming league reserved for almost mythically dominant women; perhaps because punches at critical moments aren't quite delivered. But it's an enjoyable night - and one which might give mothers and their sons a lot to think about.
Cast Credits: (alpha order): Catherine Bailey Michaela Boyd. Ludwig Bonin Solomon Mensah. Sheri-An Davis Davina Marshall. Adam Deacon Mehmet Shah. Anwar Lynch Caleb Mensah. Cecilia Noble Agnes Ofari
Company Credits: Writer Levi David Addai. Director George Perrin. Designer Hannah Clark. Design Assistant Poppy Lozynski. Stage Manager Jemma Gardner. Lighting Designer Chahine Yavroyan. Sound Technician Giles Thomas. Producer Paines Plough in association with Oval House Theatre.
(c) Michael Spring 2008
reviewed Thursday 6 March 2008 / The Oval House Theatre
Fringe Report (c) Fringe Report 2002-2013