Review: The Waves (Tamasha Theatre Company, online)

Five audio dramas exploring “the culture war” comprise The Waves – taking the legacy of the British Empire as a starting point, we move through a variety of settings highlighting gaps between those closest to each other.

The series is a Holy Mountain production in association with Tamasha Theatre Company, supported by the Audio Content Fund. You can listen to the five plays for free.

In Baby Mama (by Stefanie Reynolds, directed by Gitika Buttoo), a black woman and her white husband move into a converted cotton mill in Manchester, but the historical context of the trade raises its head, as well as their uneasy cultural imbalance.

In Glory, Glory An Edinburgh Story (by Kamala Santos, directed by Niloo-Far Khan) a grandfather and granddaughter deal with conflict at a football match in Edinburgh which leads to a story of wartime injustice.

In We See No Colour (by Danielle Fahiya, directed by Catherine Robinson) we follow twins in Cardiff, non-identical, of multiple heritage and different skin tones, as they vie for attention in a beauty contest.

In Grosvenor Road (by Corinne Walker, directed by Alix Harris) the setting is a slum building which hosts anti-racism activists, and the same place now with luxury flats being viewed by a white couple.

In Queens (by Erinn Dhesi, directed by Gitika Buttoo), Leamington Spa is the place where a grandmother delves into disturbing memories from her past.

Although some themes tie the plays together (generational difference, gentrification) each show can stand alone. The characters are real and their stories are important.

Any conflict or confusion is (mostly) resolved by the end, and female characters in particular demonstrate their strength, whether directly involved in the scripts like the beauty contest twins, the granddaughter who indulges racist chants on the terraces, or the cleaner, or mentioned in passing like the grandmother in Glory, Glory.

These are short pieces which play with the idea of cultural identity and belonging. They sometimes aim too wide when targeting those who head into areas blind to their history (the husband viewing the house through his phone in Grosvenor Road felt a little forced), but often are effective when highlighting small but crucial details about where we all come from.

The Waves is available here.

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