The High Table at Bush Theatre
Temi Wilkey’s debut was crowned a show “I’ve never enjoyed so much” by the girl who washed her hands as I used the toilet during the interval. The High Table was exactly that: enjoyable. Like a piece of your favourite cake or spending time with your oldest and closest friends, this was a performance in which the audience were fully embraced, as if being welcomed home after a long time apart.
The High Table is an interaction between the heavens above and life on earth, as Tara desperately seeks acceptance from her family to marry the girl of her dreams, Leah. Dealing with issues of identity, tradition, communication, and the stringent question “who are you to say what is and is not African?”, Wilkey’s play both criticises and celebrates African and British culture. Its power lies in its ability to look to the future with hope, to mourn trauma and yet still laugh, to seek moments of pure joy.
With notably powerful performances from Jumoké Fashola and David Webber, the play was a harmony of intense emotion and deeply hilarious comedy. Wilkey’s script was sharp, witty, rich with irony, and utterly, refreshingly real. Forget the standout performances, this was simply very good writing.
The actors shared a chemistry that extended beyond the stage into the audience, a connection that made the whole show come alive. Indeed, this was a play for and of its audience. There were laughs of recognition as if the jokes were their own, tutting as if it were their own mothers chastising them – this was an audience delighted by a performance that was personal to them and that reflected their own experiences.
The High Table received a well-deserved standing ovation, topped with a spontaneous dance party: an unforgettable union between audience, actors and characters that radiated love and a sense of homecoming.
Photo: Helen Murray
The High Table is at Bush Theatre from 15th February until 21st March 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.