Leave Taking | Review
Winsome Pinnock’s play, Leave Taking centres on the experiences of one family and their individual and collective journeys of ‘soul-searching’. The play highlights the experience of West Indian immigrants living in the UK. Through the eyes of Enid Matthews, her teenage daughters Del and Viv, family friend Brod and the neighbourhood Obeah woman we uncover the patterns and struggles that are played out both ‘back home’ and in ‘foreign’.
We encounter clashes between generations (Enid and her daughters), experiences of identity (Viv’s longing for a connection to her roots, Enid’s pride in her Englishness versus Brod’s wariness) and forms of ‘healing’ (traditional Obeah, the Church and personal reflection). We also see how certain roles and relationships are repeated again and again (the influence of Enid’s own mother on her own parenting of Del).
In this reincarnation of Pinnock’s work, Sarah Niles can be credited for portraying both the the strength and anguish of Enid’s character. The comedic performance of Wil Johnson as Brod was another highlight of this production. For me, Seraphina Beh’s performance as Del felt quite clunky and one dimensional and I would've liked to have seen the layers and depth of this character showcased more.
Whilst I was initially excited to see Leave Taking, I left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Other reviewers have been struck by the themes faced by the characters and have clearly gained an insight into the experiences of immigrant families in the UK. Perhaps my own personal experience and resonance with these issues has made it a much less 'revelatory' experience for me than it has for others. I was anticipating having a genuine connection to the characters and their stories, but unfortunately was left still feeling hungry for more. Whilst my experience was mixed, Pinnock's knack for telling important and powerful stories about the black experience cannot be denied and for this reason, above else, I would still recommend that others watch.
- Lauren Bryan