Yours Abundantly, from Zimbabwe

5
Gillian Plowman's new play at The Oval House till 18th Oct - a
By Gene - 4th Oct 2008
Abundantly Yours is a new play looking at the tragedy that is Zimbabwe. Woven from the playwright's own eight year correspondence with orphans in Zimbabwe this play speaks with a truth htat cuts straight to the heart of this complex country.

The central character, Nell, is, like th write, a British woman who meets an orphan whilst on holiday and becomes engaged in a correspondence that drags her deeper and deeper into the lives of the children, their charismatic headmaster and his wife. Their stories are at times funny, at times deeply sad. We find it hard enough to hear of people fighting across borders, sending money home to support their families and suffering endless hardship, it becomes ten times harder to be reminded that they are only 12. At times, the dependence of her growing "family" become too much to bear, especially as her own daughter is so estranged from her and simply doesn't understand her devotion to these "strangers". The story comes right up to the recent proposed power-sahre in Zimbabwe and is, frankly, not hopeful for the future of the people.

Annie Castledine's direction provides a framework so controlled that we can be whisked instantly between the here and now, reflective memory and concurrent action over two continents without missing a beat. Some of the finest ensemble acting I have seen in many years from the cast and Gillian Wright's superb re-actions, focussing intently on the action wherever it was, made for an extremely powerful evening's drama, each and every performance contributing to the overall effect. Let me think ... nope, I wouldn't have changed a thing!

Iona McLeish's design makes terrific use of the large acting space, with Nell's home being situated at the eye of the storm and Ben Payne's lighting brings Africa to the Oval House in a qiute remarkable way.

A few, lucky people will have also seen Gillian's recent "Crooked Wood" directed by Gene David Kirk at the Jermyn Street Theatre. The Jermyn's first in-house production, starring Doreen Mantle, was a very different play - realistic, intimate, funny and compelling but at the same time with some strong similarities, not least the emotional journeys of key characters and the curious pouring of cups of tea back into tea-pots! Gillian is clearly a very versatile and powerful writer of whom we should be seeing much more.

Don't miss this play.


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