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Review: Meetings

 

Monday, October 15, 2007.

 

By Belinda Otas

 

* * *

(3 Stars) 
 

Food serves as a metaphor for the old way of life that Hugh craves. For his wife, Jean, meetings and more meetings are the only way of ensuring she climbs up the ladder in the new corporate world they couple have found themselves.

 

In 1980s Trinidad, the economy is booming and Hugh and Jean, a high-flying business couple, have every reason to be happy.


But when Nicholai La Barrie as Hugh meets an old woman selling traditional Caribbean food he remembers the meals his mother used to make: he realizes what is missing in his life. Starting with food, Hugh changes his whole way of life. His search for happiness leads him away from swimming pools, a speed boat and Jean.


Meetings is a darkly comic look at a generation tempted by the fast cars and fast food of the American lifestyle but rooted in a more traditional culture. Their search for an identity, torn between heritage and globalisation, is as recognisable today as it was in the 1980s.

 

Hugh wants the traditional things in life that his Trinidadian Culture has to offer him; Jean (Inika Leigh-Wright) on the other hand wants a slice of the economic boom in the nation.

 

Written by Mustapha Matura, who is regarded as one of the finest dramatist of West Indian origin; Meetings is set in Trinidad, his place of birth. It is a play that delves into the loss of cultural heritage and tradition. A clash between the old and the new.  

 

Hugh wants real Trinidadian food, like coo-coo to get back that old feeling of what it means to be home but Jean can’t be bothered to make any because she is too busy with her meetings, a point she reiterates when she tell him, “I’m not ya mother younno,” when her husband makes a point about the kitchen having everything they need except food.

 

However, his new found appetite for the old way of life is satisfied by Elsa (Davina Anderson), the house-help brought in to help make traditional food for Hugh.

 

Soon we are faced with class divide as shown through the characters of Elsa and Jean, two different women with separate lives. While Jean has lost sight of her history, Elsa is still very much connected to the old way of life and Hugh has rediscovered his passion for that old way of life, which Jean no longer wants for them as a couple. 
 

Dan Barnard succeeds in his ability to bring to light the questions raised by Matura in this reprised production of Meetings. While it does not tug at you emotionally, it is successful in its ability to provoke thought and question us as individuals about the little things in life which we sometimes take for granted such as family, identity and heritage. 

Meetings is now showing at the Arcola Theatre, London until 20 October. 

 For more information visit: www.arcolatheatre.com   

Tel: 020 7 503 1646  

Written by: Mustapha Matura

Directed by: Dan Barnard 

Cast: Nicholai La Barrie, Inika Leigh Wright and Davina Anderson

 

Image: www.trinijunglejuice.com

 

Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's theatre editor. She can be reached at belindaotas@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

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