Author: Ros MacKenzie

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Friday, August 16th, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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Red Dust Road

The memoir of Scots poet, Jackie Kay, has been adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and brought to the Edinburgh Festival by The National Theatre of Scotland and HOME Manchester.

It’s been nearly ten years since Kay wrote about her experiences as an adopted girl growing up in a warm loving Glasgow household, but realising she was somehow different. With a birth mother from the Highlands and a birth father from Nigeria, Kay had a complex journey finding her roots.

Sasha Frost is an engaging and likeable Kay on stage, described by Kay herself as being “an upgrade” at 3 inches taller and 3 inches slimmer.

The warmth of her family life is beautifully portrayed by Elaine C Smith and Lewis Howden as her likeable, committed Communist parents, socially aware and steeped in community involvement.

In a story that leaps back and forward in time we follow Kay as she journeys to find her mother, to Nigeria to find her father, and back to her childhood. The meeting with father Jonathan played by Stefan Adegbola is an early highlight. He is an ebullient steamroller of a man, a born again Christian eager to cleanse his newly found daughter of the sin of being born, in spite of her indignant protests.
Irene Allan as the rather mousy mother from Nairn is also religious, a Mormon who cannot quite accept her outgoing daughter, a woman rather troubled in mind and spirit.

The whole production is a celebration of life, laughter and acceptance, with music by Tayo Akinbode and movement by Vicki Igbowe. When Kay returns to Nigeria to visit her father’s village, the atmosphere is gloriously joyous. In Scotland she has the Gay Gordons and address to the haggis, family sing songs and the Daily Worker. Altogether a potent mix of contrasts, as is this production.

****
Royal Lyceum Edinburgh until August 18th.
Thereafter on tour to Stirling, Inverness and Manchester.

 

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