At The Bush Theatre until 21st March
by Temi Wilkey
The Bush theatre is brimming with anticipation at the opening night for Temi Wilkey’s debut play, The High Table. Wilkey, who already contributed greatly to the queer theatre scene as co-founder and co-director of Pecs, the Drag King collective, has penned a story full of joy, heart and lots of belly-laughs.
The High Table opens with percussion and song, transporting us all straight to the North Star, where three ancestors are awakened from their slumber. As the ancestors try to figure out why they are called upon, we are introduced to Tara (Cherrelle Skeete), who is about to tell her parents that she is marrying Leah (Ibinabo Jack), who is joining them for dinner. Sadly, the news does not go down well and causes a rift between Tara and her parents. David Webber and Jumoké Fashola shine as Tara’s parents, always dancing the line between humour and tragedy beautifully.
Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that the introduction of a fourth ancestor shines a new light on Tara’s family, and shows us a different, darker side of queer life in Nigeria. Wilkey’s play does a fantastic job of questioning the history of Nigeria’s homophobic laws, as the ancestors debate what is and isn’t ‘traditional’ in their culture. This is particularly effective in a hauntingly beautiful monologue by the eldest ancestor, underscored by Mohamed Gueye’s rousing percussion.
Another great thing about The High Table is that both Leah and Tara are portrayed by queer actors, something Wilkey found an important casting choice. It’s so rare to see a queer, black femme couple portrayed on stage, that it’s great that these parts are played by actors who truly represent this grossly unrepresented group.
The High Table marks a strong start for Wilkey as a playwright. If you’re looking for an evening that will make you laugh, cry and maybe even dance in your seat – make sure you don’t miss this one.
The High Table is playing at the Bush Theatre until 21st March. Book now.
© Jeanne d’Hoog
Image © Helen Murray