Moon on a Rainbow Shawl at Bath Theatre Royal

plays-mooncharlieestherERROL John’s groundbreaking 1958 play Moon on a Rainbow Shawl was written when he was 34 years old, an immigrant from Port of Spain (where the play is set).

It tells of the struggle of a young man to leave the ties of his Trinidad home and make the break for a new life in England – and of the lives of the people left behind.

The play won the Observer Play Competition and was produced at the Royal Court as well as being broadcast on television.

It was triumphantly revived by the National Theatre and Talawa Theatre in 2012, and it is this production that is currently touring the UK, in Bath until 5th April.

It is set in a yard, owned by miserly Old Mac, around which four homes crowd, sharing a reluctant standpipe.

Charlie Adams, once a cricketer of international promise who scuppered his chances by asking for decent accommodation on a tour, lives with his wife Sophia, his scholarship winning daughter Esther and the baby in the largest “house”. Next to them in a one room shack is the orphan Rosa, in love with Ephraim from across the yard. Above him is Mavis, who shares her bed with soldiers, sailors and anyone with money.

Sophia Adams wants a decent upbringing for her children, but her feckless and disappointed husband has given up the fight.

Ephraim is single-minded in his determination to escape the bus-driving drudgery of his life and to head for Liverpool, land of dreams.

One humid night, as the thunder clamours around the yard, something happens to change all their lives.

This uncompromising production, powerfully performed and directed by Michael Buffong, brilliantly captures the humanity and desperation of the time, with wit and warmth and pathos.

Martina Laird, best known for her role in Casualty, is the proud Sophia, with June Akuwedike as her husband, Okezie Morro as the driven Ephraim and Bethan Mary James as Mary, with Ray Emmet Brown as the comically bling Prince.


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