Cheeky Little Brown

Two foot tall metallic pink balloons spell out ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY GURRRL!’ across the back of a sparsely populated stage – a lone table of party food the only decoration. Within minutes of Lady’s arrival it’s clear this birthday will be anything but happy.

For the following hour and a half the wonderful Tiajna Amayo single-handedly takes us through the events of the evening and those that preceded exploring, love, loss, friendship and the challenges of young adulthood. Whilst the play is essentially a monologue with Tiajna playing the role of Lady, on occasion she effortlessly morphs into other characters we’re introduced to – from her childhood best friend Gemma, to Gemma’s new best friend and more.

The dialogue is interspersed with original songs which bring another layer of energy to the performance (not least the hilarious love song to a doner kebab…).

Nkenna Akunna’s writing perfectly captures the torment and confusion when two people view their relationship differently. In this case Lady and Gemma have been ‘besties’ since 5 years old, growing up with each other, their shared adventures and stories at home and school a constant until they attend different universities. It’s Gemma’s 25th birthday party and, for reasons never fully explained, Lady and Gemma haven’t spoken for 6 months. 

Lady arrives at the party clearly nervous (the hip flask in her bag she reaches for frequently evidence of this) – in her eyes whatever happened can be forgotten and things can go back to how they’ve always been, however we learn that Gemma has moved on, has new friends and a new life – perhaps she’s outgrown Lady, perhaps Lady hurt her and she can’t forgive her? Struggling to understand the situation (and by now having finished the hipflask and a few swigs of wine straight from the bottle), Lady makes a scene and as such only makes the situation worse.

Leaving the party. Lady takes the night bus home (via the kebab shop) and we see the conflicted feelings the night has brought up – at times she’s embarrassed, at others defensive of her actions and blaming Gemma or her new friends.  It seems that whilst Gemma may have changed that Lady is either unwilling or unable to do so herself.

The ending of the show lacked a dramatic crescendo, instead Gemma visits Lady the morning after and we’re lead to believe that something far more significant caused the end of their friendship/relationship. This was perhaps the only part of the show that could have used a second cast member as the power of the moment was perhaps undermined by the same actor playing both parts of the conversation.

In conclusion cheeky little brown is a modern play tackling modern themes around love, relationships, race and youth with a very talented performer (who incidentally performed the entire show on crutches following an accident the previous day…) Highly recommended!

This show was reviewed on the 17th April 2024 at Stratford East Theatre where it runs until the 20th April 2024.  Tickets available here: cheeky little brown - Stratford East

Review written by Mike Stocks


Photo credit: Craig Fuller

Check out other reviews from Curtain Call Reviews and get in touch to have our reviewers head to your show.

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.