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VSa tradition that lasts forever? Or does it have to adapt to survive? These are the questions posed by the piece selected by Archie Maddocks for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize, A Place for We. Set in a building in Brixton, as the Windrush Generation arrives and following the scandal over their treatment, we see three families from different eras striving to make her fit to serve their evolving community. From a pub to a funeral home and an urban, Zen wine bar, every generation believes their service is what locals should want and need.

In the aging undertaker, Nine Nights, we meet the James family. Clarence is the patriarch determined to ensure that his institution does not lose its Trinidadian customs. Expertly played by David Webber, we see with concern his relationship with his Métis son, Keron (Laurence Ubong Williams), becoming increasingly fractured. “I might have been born here, but I’m not from here,” Keron spits.

Full of subtlety and naturalism, the Maddocks script, directed by Michael Buffong, is a gift for its actors. Blake Harrison becomes the owner of the George pub with just the right balance of comedy and grain, as he complains about his business going bankrupt. Joanna Horton equally captures the excruciating grief of his stubborn wife Anna after the loss of their son: “His first words. I’ll never forget the way he said it, ”she recalls. With a candle lit in memory of someone lost in every scene, the dead here feel as present as the living.

Backed by simple decor designed by Louie Whitemore, A Place for We is a moving portrait of the ever-changing face of London. As fierce as the struggle to preserve the past is, the city is constantly changing.

At the Park Theater, London, until November 6.


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