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Review: BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY, National Theatre

Review: BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY, National Theatre

This production will captivate audiences.

Review: BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY, National Theatre Blues for an Alabama Sky begins when the delights of the Harlem Renaissance are swiftly being swept away by the tides of the great depression. It's the summer of 1930, and a group of friends living in Harlem are fighting to keep their dreams alive - at whatever cost.

The play pivots around the lives of Angel Allen (Samira Wiley) and Guy Jacobs (Giles Terera), long-time friends who have always lived on the 'cusp' of greatness without ever quite reaching it. Angel is a talented singer, but often finds herself performing for the wrong crowds - and Guy is a costume designer, waiting on a job offer from Josephine Baker that will take him from Harlem to the streets of Paris.

The 30s were a period where activism and artistry met; and the hopes and struggles of Angel and Guy are mirrored in their friendships with Delia, their 25-year-old neighbour, and birth control activist, and Sam, a local doctor known for "letting the good times roll." One evening, a chance encounter with a southern gentleman sets forth a change of events that will change them all forever - perhaps irreparably.

This production, directed by Lynette Linton is nothing short of mesmerising - combining music, movement, and powerful performances to create a production that evokes truly visceral reactions within the audience. Linton's direction is sensitive and purposeful, generating a sense of tension that is razor-sharp, slicing through the comfort that the onstage comradery creates.

Praise could be doled out endlessly for the cast. Throughout, Wiley is captivating in her portrayal of Angel, and it is a testament to her abilities that the audience feels so deeply for a character so morally grey. Terera is magnetic as Guy; a character who is openly gay in an era where living so freely could have proven dangerous. Osy Ikhile, the southern stranger turned romantic interest, Leland is a force to be reckoned with, especially as the character's behaviours so often shift. Sule Rimi, playing the role of Dr. Sam is equally compelling and brings in a lot of comedy throughout. Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo steals the scene every time she appears on stage as Delia, balancing a youthful naivety with a fiery spirit effortlessly.

Throughout, powerful musical interludes break up the drama, while lighting design from Oliver Fenwick creates a drowsy, at times suffocating atmosphere that mimics the struggles of the characters on stage. This pairs nicely with the stunning set from Frankie Bradshaw, in which an apartment block is reconstructed on the stage.

To put it simply, this is a production that people are going to be talking about. Each moment on stage is considered, and impactful - particularly during the show-stopping second act, which leaves audiences on the edge of their seat.

Blues For An Alabama Sky is at The National Theatre until the 5 November.

Theatres Trust Announces Theatres at Risk Register 2023 Photo
Theatres Trust, the charity that campaigns to protect the UK’s theatres, has published its annual Theatres at Risk Register, which highlights theatres across the UK under threat of closure, redevelopment or severe decay, but which all have the potential to be revived for their local communities. 

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From This Author - Abbie Grundy

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