Review: A Tale of Two (Woman) 'Ooman

5 March 2015

I was struck by two things when I saw one of the four stellar sold-out theatre performances of Mon0lisa Productions', A Tale of Two Woman at New Art Exchange last week. Firstly, it was missing the phonetic emphasis in the title - 'Tale of Two 'Ooman or 'Uman'. Some Jamaican people pronounce 'woman' as 'uman' with just the right amount of looseness of the Jamaican patois tongue. With this in the title, I believe more people would better understand the nature and amount of the research and development that Lisa Jackson undertook to get this production as culturally correct as possible. Without it, not only was everyone tempted to correct the grammar, but audiences might have found the first act strange and out of kilter with what we know of Lisa's previous works with Enus, Patty Dumplin and her many other self-written characters, which serve as a ranconteur of Anglo-Jamaican life in Nottingham. As an ExperiMentor artist, Lisa had developed the script with mainly female elder community volunteers of Caribbean heritage. This was inherent in the nuances in the monologue which drew comments and appreciative laughter from audiences young and old. I was humbled by the way that the famous Mrs Mac served me chicken patties and a drink in the interval as if I was at a real wake. Lisa Hendricks provided a tear-jerking rendition of The Wailer's version of Dreamland.

The second thing was the serendipitous nature of the production in the context of the current exhibition at New Art Exchange by photographer Mahtab Hussain, The Commonality of Strangers. In the same way we live next to strangers and have so many stories in common, how could two women, connected by one man, be so estranged. A chalk and cheese story told in two acts against a backdrop of a beautifully designed set, I was reminded that not only was the venue full of a rich palette of visual stories and performances, but also how we need to experience both the chalk and the cheese in order to make our connectivity to each other make sense.

Bea Udeh, 5 March 2015

Real Creative Futures Project Manager

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