#Review: Family Tree – Everyman Theatre, Liverpool – 4-6th May, 2023


Overall Rating: 5 ****  

Emotive.  Conscience questioning. Thought provoking.

This highly emotive play held the press and guest audience for opening night in raptures for the full 95 minute production.

The play opened with a strong monologue from Aminita Francis who played the lead role of Henrietta Lacks. The monologue cited intricate details of unfair and unjust treatment of black people over time. It made the audience think and question their own conscience and question if they were bystanders/enablers of such atrocities. Thought provoking! Whilst some could have interpreted the play as inciting racial divides with the historical situations it covered, it would be difficult to not acknowledge that sadly, these practices did go on and abhorrently are still happening in both the UK currently and the wider world! Aminita gave a strong and highly emotive performance. She had many intricate lines to deliver that were interspersed with clever puns and an abundance of metaphors that were not lost on the audience. This was exemplified via the role of the smoking white man played by Alistair Hall.

Mofetoluwa Akande (Ain/ Anarcha/Oshun), Keziah Joseph (Bibi/Betsey) and Aimee Powell (Lyn/Lucy) all delivered a magnificent moving portrayal of the plight of women and their treatment – medical abominations in particular – they endured, all in the name of research and advancement in finding cures and treatment for illnesses and diseases such as cancer and epilepsy. At stages in the play, they had the audience shouting out in agreement, nodding, sighing and gaspsing at some of the real life scenarios that were played out. This play after all was based on the real life perceptions of Henrietta Lacks and many black people like her. Their lives were seen as inferior, inconsequential and above all, only there to serve white people. Mofetoluwa Akande additionally delivered an outstanding performance in the role of the omnipresent Oshan, which secured her and her other cast members rapturous applause plus a standing ovation at the end of the performance.   

Costume and set designer Simon Kenny needs a commendation too as the simple yet effective plantation set and costumes, which added significantly to the realistic portrayal of the women’s plight. 

There was also an exciting opportunity to have a post-show discussion with Associate Director Amelia Thornber and members of the cast to discuss and debate the content and interpretations of the play. Wonderfully enlightening, brave and highly interesting.

If you would like to see this highly emotive and award-winning play which tells the story of the mother of the evolution, research and current modern medicine that we now rely upon! Then please buy tickets directly from the box office https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/family-tree  £12 – 19

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