‘You can change the leaves but you can’t change the roots'

Gabriella La Rocca's review of Riverside Studio's 1800 Acres


1800 Acres
Riverside Studios
Crisp Road
London W6 9RL

Tue 16 Sep - Sun 12 Oct
Tickets: £10 - £17.50

Irish Cultural Centre

‘You can change the leaves but you can’t change the roots,’ says Chris who has lost his home to an African-American family from New York. He exudes anger, despair and refuses to leave. Where you belong is as important as your name. Your gender and what you chose to do with your life are secondary.

For young Jacob from Brooklyn the vast land, the infinity of the sky, the silent nights writhed with the chanting of crickets imprison him into a new reality he simply fears, whereas his mother thinks the countryside in West Texas, far from the hard neighbourhoods of New York will encourage him to a wholesome life; he does respond but stirs everyone with his original way of feeling at home.

The playwright David Myers attempts a psychological insight of four people confronted with events that threaten stability and security in life, but the audience is fired a sequence of unexpected developments that leaves it exhilarated. Four lives unite and unfold on the ranch, desires and family secrets are in the spotlight.

Four very talented actors engage the audience in each scene, bouncing off each other continuously. The delivery is flawless. Cathy Tyson who plays Linda is experienced in film, television and theatre and when asked about the difference of acting on stage and on the set she said, ‘It’s richer in dialogue and more spontaneous (on stage). You can you transport the audience in another world instantly.’ Indeed, this is what theatre is all about and while you know this cast is skilled you still want to discover why it works so well in this play.

It came to no surprise when, on the other member of the cast she commented that they are very close, and it became clearer that this story developed with the unity of the four actors. Mark Field skilfully brings to life the impertinent, violent and uncouth character of Chris Todd who, every time you think that his anger is ebbing, he emits a blob of phlegm fast, with its gritty sound echoing in your ears in the following scene. Tony Boncza is Gus, a constant powerful presence throughout the story while Toby Bakare, a drama student is captivating as Jacob. Raw talents too like stories develop with skilful artists.

Gabriella La Rocca

September 23, 2008