Home » London Theatre Reviews » The Gift by Leanna Benjamin – Graeae Theatre Company | Review

The Gift by Leanna Benjamin – Graeae Theatre Company | Review

By way of a male care worker gone rogue, to put it ridiculously mildly, Jasmine (Saida Ahmed), has just found out she is with child. As the news is very new, she wants to take some time to consider her next steps, but her mother Shirley (Sharon D Clarke), who is on a Zoom call wishing her a happy birthday, almost immediately starts dispensing not so much advice but instructions. It is, however, Jasmine’s thirtieth birthday, and as she has left the family home anyway (hence the Zoom call, lockdown measures being what they are) the umbilical cord has been well and truly cut. Or has it?
The Gift by Leanna Benjamin - Graeae Theatre Company

A decent amount of ground was covered in this brief production, though the show is not too cluttered with too many issues and narrative points. It was interesting to me that, given a crime against the person has been committed, there wasn’t more of a focus on “that man” and legal proceedings being brought against him. Just about enough details are supplied for the audience to be in no doubt as to what transpired. Neither mother nor daughter particularly wants to talk about him (he is not named), looking instead to the future – the long and the short of it is that there is a lot for Jasmine to think about and work out.

The Gift by Leanna Benjamin - Graeae Theatre CompanyThere are a wide range of emotions that come to the fore, and whatever their differences, it is evident that mother and daughter love each other – a lot. It is not easy for either character, and it is pretty much impossible not to empathise with Shirley’s desire to be protective of her daughter. The combined power of love, forgiveness and communication are in full force in this compassionate and poignant piece of theatre. The show’s conclusion deliberately fails to tie up loose ends, leaving it to the audience to determine for themselves what happened next. It’s raw, it’s messy, it’s complicated: it’s real life.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

THE GIFT
by Leanna Benjamin
starring Sharon D Clarke and Saida Ahmed
A pregnant woman has to make a terrible choice, but will her mother respect her decision?

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