Theatre Review - Brenda's Got a Baby

Anita-Joy Uwajeh and Jahmila Heath in Brenda’s Got a Baby [Cesare De Giglio]

I had high hopes for the follow-up production from the makers of the terrific For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy.

Ama (Anita-Joy Uwajeh) seems to have it all – a promising career, a caring family and she has just bought a flat. After her boyfriend Dami (Jordan Duvigneau) crassly breaks up with her on her 29th birthday, Ama begins obsessing about having a baby.

Jessica Hagan’s play explores the societal pressures of having children too soon, like Brenda the eponymous pregnant teenager referenced here, or remaining childless and partnerless in your 30s.

Resenting the fact that her younger sister Jade (Jahmila Heath), happily married to Skippy (Edward Kagutuzi), is now ahead of her on all counts, Ama embarks on a rollercoaster ride to get pregnant before she is 30.

Hagan touches upon serious issues – the shortage of black sperm donors and the fact that black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women – but there’s a sitcom vibe to her play as the chaotic comic narrative shoots off in several different directions.

The siblings’ mother (Michelle Asante) just wants both her daughters to leave home. As a comedy about black womanhood and sisterhood, it’s the scenes between the three women that work the best.

Anastasia Osei-Kuffour’s direction lacks focus – too often the actors sit self-consciously in chairs facing out to the audience to have a conversation – while the symbolism of TK Hay’s colourful jigsaw puzzle house feels forced.

Nevertheless, there’s a definite warmth to this well-paced production, winning performances elevate the drama and the cliffhanger ending drew audible gasps from the press night audience.

Until December 2

Originally published by Camden New Journal