Grandad Anansi  – Half Moon Theatre  

Predicated partly on Black History Month, Elayne Ogbeta’s muliti-layered play presents Grandad (Marcus Hercules) and his primary school age granddaughter, Abi (Jazmine Wilkinson) in his garden. Like everything else in this show, the garden designed by Sorcha Corcoran, is beautiful with lots of colour, light and plants that Grandad knows by name and talks to. One of the many layers in this show is botanical with words like “perennial” casually thrown in.

Story telling, and its extraordinary power, is at the centre of the piece because Grandad and Abi, who really love each other, are bonded by the traditional tales of Anansi, the spider which they share and act out with lots of humour and pleasure, improvising with items lying about in the garden. Another theme is migration because Grandad has come, originally, from Jamaica and hankers for its sound, sunshine, smells and colour. He is planning to return but struggles to tell Abi this, so the play is also about loss, change and letting go.

Hercules brings a certain venerability to Grandad although he’s also lithe and lively especially when Abi is teaching him to dance. 

Wilkinson’s performance is strong and convincing too. She has all the gestures, mannerisms and body language of a 9-year-old but also segues effortlessly into Jamaican Patois for the telling of the Anansi stories which are in verse and often vibrantly sung to Tayo Akinbode’s music.  

Photo by Lizzie Henshaw
Review by Susan Elkin