On Monday 30 April The National Theatre opened his doors to an unmissable ensemble of events: Nine Night, a play written by Natasha Gordon and directed by Roy Alexander Weise, leads the way for a season of exploration, talks, memories and pictures celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush in Tilbury (please visit the website for more info about the events).
Nine Night is a boisterous, hilarious and moving journey into grief, family, traditions and the meaning of home: when Gloria, who left Jamaica many years ago to build a better future for herself and her family, dies, the traditional Jamaican Nine Night Wake begins to both escort her soul to Heaven and allow her family and friends to find their own peace. But while the nights and days pass, the music reverberates, the smell of food saturates the walls and memories unravel, the responsible Lorraine and her brave daughter Anita, the ambitious Robert and his wife Sophie, Uncle Vince and Aunt Maggie face the painful reality of past mistakes, regrets, old wounds and new ones. When Trudy, the daughter Gloria left behind, joins them to say goodbye to a mother she never really knew, past and present melt into a time bomb about to explode.
Nine Night is a powerful exploration of love and grief, the small cruelties that shape our bonds with whom we love the most, and a celebration of the power of memories and traditions: while History left its mark on the Windrush generation, the extraordinary and ordinary lives of the women and men who reached the shores of the United Kingdom and started their new lives here shaped the very face and soul of the nation.
Woven into the rhythm of mento, the fragrant patois, nostalgia and family ties, a magnificent cast lead by the powerful humour and intense performance of Cecilia Noble, and an absolutely dazzling Franc Ashman’s Lorraine, the play asks us an important question: in a society where death is the greatest taboo and pain is still felt as a source of shame and secrecy, where people cast away grief instead of embracing it, there is still a space where the old rites of passage, traditions and rituals can survive? The production shows us that even if nobody can experience our grief but us, rituals are necessary for us to sew the loose ends of pain and regret together to remember, celebrate, forgive and survive.