Leeds Playhouse – until 29 February 2020
Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood
Tiata Fahodzi’s Seeds in association with the Leeds Playhouse, Soho Theatre and Tara Finney Productions is being world premiered in Leeds. Written by Mel Pennant and directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, Seeds, is about two women who meet and share their grief and sorrow concerning their sons – one living and one who has passed away and the circumstances have brought on their survivals.
Both women, Evelyn (Judith Jacob) and Jackie (Penny Layden) share their accounts which relate to that day, 15 years ago, when Michael Thomas was stabbed. Jackie wishes to clear her conscience and Evelyn is planning to publicly pay a tribute speech. The revelations powerfully explore the themes of prejudice, racism, violence and death. Set in Evelyn’s living room with a standout tribute picture of her son, the quest for justice and answers on both the women’s part are met with accusative controversy, personal attacks, blinded ignorance and hard hitting emotions.
With such difficult and sensitive subjects being intensively explored and at times, Seeds is provocatively and evocatively powerful. It is explosive with the revealing of events that happened before the fatal stabbing and the repercussions afterwards, legally and emotionally. Unsurprisingly this production can be uncomfortable viewing especially for those who understandably relate to those circumstances and the sufferings that it brings. However the producers considerably offers support by inviting the audience to leave the auditorium if they need to and encourage those who need it to seek the relevant support including key professional agencies.
Both Jacob and Layden’s portrayals of Evelyn and Jackie respectively are done so well and their performances bring the story to life with created impact that moves the audience to be united in their plights. Things don’t appear as clear cut as originally envisioned and believed as it includes undocumented mitigating circumstances and newer developments, revealed in the story. The women are encouraged to see things in different perspectives though emotively charged with their personal circumstances.
With the powerful impact being personally experienced Seeds is a play very well written, very well performed and very well directed. Though it can be intense and uncomfortable at times, it is a testimony to how well the producers have delivered this 90 minute powerful play. It will no doubt be well felt and well received when this play continues to tour at other venues.