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Thursday, 9 November 2017

REVIEW: From The Sky To Your Hands at Newcastle Live Theatre


Another Powerful Tale From Live

From The Sky To Your Hands
Newcastle Live Theatre
Until
Saturday 11th November 2017
Told by Joana Geronimo
Written by Juliana Mensah
Directed by Paul James
Designed by Alison Ashton
Dramaturgy by Gez Casey
Musical Direction by Mariam Razaei

Cast            
Joana Geronimo
Osvaldo Geronimo
Finn Armstrong
Isobel Donkin
Paul Gaitskell
Elizabeth Guariento
Monica Hardcastle
Dawn Hardcastle
Ore Olajide

From The Sky To Your Hands is an important record of the journey of Joana Geronimo, and her son Osvaldo, from Cabinda to Newcastle. It’s world premiere at the Quayside’s Live Theatre forms part of the Freedom City 2017 Festival. Writer Juliana Mensah has used a series of interviews with Joana to create a piece of verbatim theatre that features Joana and Osvaldo themselves plus members of Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre.

The show is a powerful production that does not try to sweeten the unpleasant nature of the story. Joana left the Angolian protectorate because she was in fear of her life. Cabinda has oil reserves and people were willing to kill in order to profit from it. Despite having a baby she was questioned and imprisoned for several months. Once released, he left and boarded an Air France flight to England and she makes home in Newcastle.

The performance looks at some of the highs and lows of her experiences in the Tyneside city.  The chorus of 8 young people, including her son, fill in with the facts about Angola and Newcastle including the relevant crime statistics. Not all of it is negative. The group also perform as the social services, police, teachers and other people that Joana comes into contact with. 

The show has extra gravitas as Joana and Osvaldo, who are both products of Live’s Youth Theatre, perform as themselves. This is a challenge for director Paul James but he allows them to share their passion for the story.

Prolific local musician Mariam Rezaei has created the music that fits in with the progress of the tale and, at times, provides some light relief.  The talented young cast perform with energy.

We all have our own preferences in what we like to see at the theatre and this show has many of the qualities that I like to see. The emotion is clear, especially as Joana discusses poverty. One thing I’m not a fan of is a chorus repeating phrases like “questions” over and over again. But that’s just me and I still enjoyed the show.

Newcastle’s Live Theatre has a well deserved reputation for developing both new writing and young actors. They create opportunities for important work to be given a platform and support young people to make theatre accessible. The chorus tonight included Kalem Patterson who appeared in Paddy Campbell’s Day of the Flymo. Live also organises bursaries for the Gben! Playwrighting course and it was great to see Wambui Hardcastle and Ore Olajide from that course on stage tonight.  The young people did themselves proud tonight.

From The Sky To Your Hands creates a contrast between the painful memories of Joana and the recollections of her son who only remembers the Newcastle years. 2017 has been a great year for Live Theatre’s productions and this is no exception. Intelligent, powerful and emotive: Joana’s performance is well worth a trip to the Quayside. The only shame is that the show is on a short run.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Tickets:
From The Sky To Your Hands is at Live Theatre from Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 November, 7.30pm and Saturday 11 November, 2pm

Tickets are £10-£14, over 60s £12 and other concessions £6.  For more information or to book tickets visit www.live.org.uk or contact Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

Duration: Approx. 1hr
Suitabilty: Suitable for ages 13+, contains strong language


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