Browsing category: Coming to England

Coming to England

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Coming to England at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Photo: Geraint Lewis

Coming to England at the Rep Theatre, Birmingham

31st March-16th April 2022

Review written by Dave Close

As a ’Playschool baby’ I was excited to see the adaptation of Floella Benjamin’s book ‘Coming to England’ at the Birmingham Rep. This musical adaptation takes us through Floella’s early life in Trinidad and her initial thoughts and feelings having made the move to London in the early 1960’s. We are invited to see what island living was like and with our 21st century goggles it is hard to see why anyone would want to leave that for the dreary, harsher, streets of London! I took my 11- and 9-year-olds – similar ages to Floella and her siblings when they made the unaccompanied journey from Trinidad – and it was interesting to get their thoughts on making such a journey at that age.

 

When Floella arrives in London she is subjected to overt racism directly aimed at herself and family. Whilst we have come a long way since those days there is still a distance to travel before the colour of your skin becomes irrelevant. Stories like these do resonate with children and provide a positive message in both how to deal with racism and how ridiculous it is in the first place.  

The shows musical numbers and occasional audience participation help keep the story moving and allow it to be accessible to children. However, I would be reluctant to take very young children as it is quite long and I’m not sure the key messages would get through in that format (perhaps reading the book version as a bedtime story would be more beneficial).  

From a personal point of view, I would like to have heard more about Floella’s rise to stardom and the challenges she faced to get there but I guess it’s hard to cram a life’s story into 2 hours!  

For more information about Coming to England at the Rep follow the link.