Wedding Band

As I enter the auditorium, I am greeted with a stage set of wire fences, warm orange lighting and the sounds of beautiful singing. You can almost feel the South Carolina heat, it’s oppressive, a theme which carries throughout the play.

Written in 1962, set in 1918, this is a deep dark look at history, specifically Black history. This is the first time it is being staged in London and it feels perfectly timed. Set in a time where interracial relationships were illegal we meet Julia (Deborah Ayorinde) , a woman who has recently moved into a room in a housing complex run by landlady Fanny (Lachele Carl), a woman who believes she is upwardly mobile and esteemed within her race. We learn of Julia’s long term partner Herman (David Walmsley) who is a baker and is white which means their 10 year relationship has been a secret from everyone in their lives. That is until Herman becomes sick with influenza and his mother and sister arrive to take him home. Their arrival does however feel a little melodramatic and some of the intense energy is lost as they feel a little overplayed.

The setting being mid WW1 adds tensions to the characters, ultimately this is a piece about oppression and lack of freedom, it still feels starkly relevant in today’s world. Women are at the fore-front of this story, there are moments of strong feminism which hold their power against the men in their world.

Ayorinde and Walmsley have a beautiful chemistry together on stage. They are believable as a pair and Ayorinde in particular brings a strong presence to the stage with her acting. As the character begins to spiral we get to see her impressive acting, a performance which will stay with me for some time.

Although this is an intense story, there are some wonderful moments of humour and joy within it. The writing is clever and packs punches in all the right places.

At times the pacing does feel slow, especially in the first act, it feels as though the writing looses it’s way at points but act 2 comes back and significantly improves. The pace picks up and the drama heightens.

The ending is quite something to behold. Everything comes together in a beautiful way and it is worth seeing the show just for the ending sequence in my opinion. This is an important story and should be watched with regard for the world we continue to live in, it may be set over 100 years ago, but we can still learn from it’s messages today.

This show was reviewed on the 8th June 2024 at the Lyric Hammersmith where it runs until the 29th June 2024.  Tickets available here: Wedding Band: A Love Hate Story in Black and White - Lyric Hammersmith

Review written by Rosie Browne


Photo credit: Mark Senior

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