Theatre review - A Place for We

In a multicultural city like London where do any of us truly belong and for how long? People come and people go. Archie Maddocks’ bittersweet comedy, A Place for We, a co-production between Park Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company, explores the changing face of Brixton and how this affects its vibrant, diverse community.

Maddocks focuses on one building, transformed over the generations, and the small traditions that manage to survive the neighbourhood’s gentrification. The play covers five decades and three families; those who embrace change and those who get left behind.

In the first act, Clarence (David Webber), the Trinidadian owner of Nine Nights, offers a traditional Caribbean funeral service to the local community, but business is not what it used to be. His son Keron (Laurence Ubong Williams) is expecting a baby with his white girlfriend Tasha (Kirsty Oswald) and is keen to update and extend the family business. Clarence is determined to resist.

In the second half, we learn that in 1971 the building had been a pub run by two white Londoners Anna (Joanna Horton) and George (Blake Harrison). They don’t get the customers they used to and reluctantly hand over the keys to Elmorn (Webber) and his thirteen-year-old son Clarence (Harold Addo). Elmorn sighs with relief at finally finding “a place for we”.

In the present day, the venue has become a high-end wine bar and conscious eatery run by Esme (Oswald) and Angus (Harrison).  

A Place for We is beautifully acted and Michael Buffong offers assured direction but it’s a tad long and Maddocks’ dialogue sometimes meanders off subject; shaving off some minutes would have resulted in a tighter production.

However, it’s a play full of heart and particularly apt that it should premiere at Park Theatre, a beacon of light in an area that has also undergone rapid change in recent years.

Until Nov 6.