debbie tucker green’s trade, Young Vic Theatre


Now, strictly speaking this isn’t a review as the show was not open to press review. This was because the director, Bryony Shanahan, was a Winner of a 2016 Genesis Future Directors Award, so this was an opportunity for her to work under (slightly!) less pressure.

However, I know the popularity of debbie tucker green – so much so that this short run of shows of her new writing were sold out many months in advance – so I thought I would do a little write-up as I’m sure many who missed out on tickets want to know more, and also because I wanted to acknowledge the talent on display.

trade examines the politics of sex, money, and emancipation through a power play between three black women hanging out by the shore in the Caribbean. I love debbie tucker green’s work anyway, always, and trade is another play that showcases what a terrific, challenging and provocative writer she is.

This play reveals itself slowly. These three women spar and bicker about men and the politics of buying a drink for a man – and buying sex. What are the actions of an independent woman?  What is it to be independent?

It’s unclear who these women are, whether they are all locals, and what would bring them together for this discussion but, sure enough, a through line emerges and it’s clear that though these women may be strangers, they have a common link. But there are also profound differences, such as age, nationality and economic means. And it’s how those differences play out that draws you in.

First of all, the three performances are superb. Ayesha Antoine, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Jo Martin all deftly handle the constantly changing accents, dialect and some tricky text. The verbal sparring is sparky, fusing humour and bite with a great tension.

And enabling them is some terrific direction from Bryony Shanahan. She gives them space and pulls out the see-sawing in the constantly shifting balance of power brilliantly well, allowing the audience to get to grips with what is happening as, for the most part, this play is deliberately obscure. The text is rich in its intricacies and complexity but it’s brought to life wonderfully in a show that fizzes with gender politics, tourist exploitation, race, class, humour and betrayal.

Young Vic Theatre, London to November 26, 2016.

Promotional image © Young Vic Theatre

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