Anne Critchley

Blackbird at Southwark Playhouse

Southwark Playhouse occupies a tiny space in a converted warehouse in Bankside. It is perhaps the building's physical limitations that acts as a forcing ground for their many innovative productions.

Blackbird is no exception. Set in a horticultural business in the heart of England it is a play about grief, loss, passion and cultural identity. It is also in part a brave attempt to understand asylum seekers away from the sensational headlines of the tabloid press. There are almost too many interesting issues in this production plus occasional singing and music as well!

It feels as if the play needed a third act. Or even to be developed into a small opera. Having said this, the acting is excellent throughout. Juliet Alderdice is a revelation as the passionate gardener Rosemary. Tilly Tremayne gives a magnificent performance as an anguished middle class widow.

Anatol Yusef is the hapless Kurdish refugee whose repressed emotions and desire to fit in with English life is painful to watch. In the courtyard outside peony plants are for sale to raise funds for the Refugee Council. They are grown by Putting Down Roots, a local gardening charity for homeless men. Yet another poignant story.

• Blackbird is at Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 28 June.
• 020 7401 9919

• Special Offer: All tickets 5 to readers. Just quote London-SE1 when booking.

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