dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
A tale of different generations
Less than three years after launching The Foundry creative writing project, the Birmingham Rep is already seeing its fruits in this world premiere by Amahra Spence.
Performed as a monologue, Abuelo sees emerging talent Spence exploring the identity of a troubled young woman through her relationship with her grandfather.
As this woman experiences extreme pain and loss and attempts to find her own place in society she delves into the heritage of her grandfather who left Jamaica for the Black Country at the age of 16. Finding parallels but also differences between the two lives, the show explores issues of identity, male/female roles in society, heritage and inter-generational bonds.
Spence is a talented writer capable of encapsulating great depths of story and character in an hour long show. And she is also a lively performer, switching roles between the questioning narrator and her grandfather, perfectly capturing the aches and pains, humour and self-aggrandisement of the aging patriarch.
At times the characterisation and Jamaican patois is so strong that it can be difficult to understand but Spence just about gets away with it because the character is so likeable.
Directed by Daniel Bailey and performed in The Door, the small space and lack of staging creates a bond between performer and audience so that we are rapidly convinced of the reality of both this young woman and her grandfather.
There is no doubt that Spence is a talent to be watched. Nurtured by The Rep she has gained a strong foothold with Abuelo. It will be interesting to see where her creativity takes her next.