Justina Kehinde’s Til Death Do Us Part written by Safaa Benson’ Effiom, is a compelling drama that keeps you in your seat, the 90 minute long production opened this week at Theatre503, Battersea.
Til Death takes you on a journey with couple, Sylvia (Danielle Kasarate) and Daniel (Richard Holt) who are grieving their son Andrew’s (Jude Chinchen) death. After 15 years of marriage, Daniel and Sylvia find themselves drifting further apart with each passing day. Until one morning, they find themselves abruptly united by every parent’s worst nightmare… An exploration of family dynamics, relationships, lack of communication and what happens when their lives are turned upside down.
In the beginning, the stage is set up like a family’s living space with white curtains and flower bouquets filling the room. The furniture used is light and there is dry flowers attached to the curtains. The significance of the flowers makes sense later on in the play as they discuss sympathy flowers and question why this is something that is done. Although the play covers death and is a heavy topic, there is a good balance of comedy throughout, and it is a wonderful depiction of real family life.
The couple first come onto the stage and stare into the distance. Their movements are jerky as they travel into different periods. The atmosphere is tense and the lighting is low. We’re then taken back to the past where their son appears and he is reading his school project out loud.
The parents watch their son adoringly and it’s clear from the beginning that they love him very much and beam with pride. The family are first shown as a strong unit and Kasarate’s Sylvia comic timing is applaudable. The humorous banter creates a nice balance of light and shade. It’s apparent from this scene that they have different parenting styles. Sylvia is the stricter parent and is wants her son to become a doctor. Daniel has a more laid-back approach and wants to be ”pals’’. He questions his son’s after school commitments and mentions that this may be too much.
Authenticity of the performances drive the emotional journey keeping us captivated. As time moves on we start to uncover the truths about the couple’s relationship and Andrew’s struggles as a teenager. Til Death looks at parents living their dreams through their children and the pressure that can bring to everyone involved. It looks at death and how this can be dealt with differently.
This is a play worth seeing fuelled by strong writing and directing and pushing a very powerful message that sticks with you long after the actors leave the stage. Tickets here.
Ruth Watson ‘Ross
Til Death Do Us Part by Safaa Benson’ at Theatre503, showing until 21/05/22
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