top of page

HAVE YOUR          SAY.....

Whether you agree or disagree with our critics, we welcome  your comments and will try to include them at the end of the review. 

Please use our contact form 

A Powerful Production!

Photo by Helen Murray

Family Tree. The B2 stage, Belgrade Theatre from 10 – 18 March. 95 minutes no interval.

The world premiere of Mojisola Adebayo’s powerful play, Family Tree has begun its 13-week, 12 venue national tour on the B2 stage at the Belgrade Theatre.

It's the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five who unknowingly donated cells to medical research. Her HeLa cell line was the first immortalized cell line and formed the basis of the most important medical research the world had ever seen over the past 70 years, with breakthroughs in everything from Polio, Cancer and HIV to COVID. Henrietta Lacks died of cancer in 1951, aged just 31, never knowing how her body lives on, touching every life on this planet – yet few people have even heard of her.

Playwright Mojisola Adebayo says of Family Tree: “The play paints a family tree of Black women whose cells, blood and waters have birthed, raised and changed the world.”

Director of Family Tree, Matthew Xia addss: “We owe our lives to her. Denied her place in history, now is the time to bring Henrietta’s epic legacy to life on stage.”

Photo by Helen Murray

There is so much in this play, and to say it’s cleverly written would be a massive understatement. It’s brilliantly written, exploring issues of health, race, the environment and much more. It’s fast moving, poetic in its rhythm and delivery. The setting is darkly dramatic and thought provoking. It’s highly likely that every single person in the packed B2 auditorium would have taken something different from this play, interpreting the scenes, speech and action in ways personal to themselves.

It’s a production that I’m sure will spark passionate debate over the topics that these four female characters and one male character depict. There are no holds barred as writer Mojisola Abebayo pours out her heart through these characters, telling of all the injustices and wrongdoings and centuries of mistreatment through racism, greed and intolerance.

Photo by Helen Murray

This is a play you would gladly watch more than once, not just for the drama, the brilliant acting, the music or the way it is packed full of emotion, but to take in the heartfelt messages that come at you fast and furious, like hailstones in a storm, hard hitting and quite relentless at times.

Yet there’s also humour and laughter; times when Henrietta talks directly to the audience – the smaller B2 auditorium making this intimacy between cast and audience quite easy and natural. All this plus music, singing and dancing, all woven into this 95-minute production.

Aminita Francis as Henrietta Lacks gives a spellbinding and passionate performance. Her delivery of the poetic lines, word perfect.

Through the excellent direction of Matthew Xia, Henrietta’s story unfolds on another plain to the other characters on stage - their stories quite seamlessly spanning time. Mofetoluwa Akande plays Ain/Anarcha/Oshun – bringing strong performances to each role. Keziah Joseph is excellent in her roles of Bibi/ Betsey; a frail-looking character, but boy, can she swing an axe when chopping wood! And last but not least of this trio of friends through time, sees Aimée Powell as Lyn/Lucy – a gentle soul, again producing a performance to be proud of. And all the while, there’s the ominous presence of the smoking man (Alistair Hall) in the background. A sinister and changing role that he excelled at.

This isn’t the sort of play where you sit and simply expect to be entertained, it’s powerful, hard hitting and might not be everybody’s cup of tea, especially if you're easily offended. But it tells an important story that affects every one of us – and it tells that story brilliantly.


bottom of page