Hymn — Almeida Theatre
I didn’t know what to expect — first it seemed craggy brother vs smooth brother; one a more solid family man plodding on to provide; one with ambition and ideas and drive. Suddenly there was music at a funeral — the poignancy of Lean on Me, and this became a different play entirely….
Though socially distanced and masked at points, there is so much emotion, loving fellowship and brotherhood — fun as they explore and rediscover 80s hits and dances and discuss their families, how they felt about their dead family members and how they struggle to be good husbands, fathers, men, providers. The pain of a father being dismissed by his son as not doing enough and putting up with too much was huge and being able to ask his own brother/friend to speak to his son instead, as well as showing how friends support each other in their family situations and act as surrogate fathers.
I didn’t expect the piano playing or another funeral with the shockingly sad ending; of how the cleverest of us can be scammed of our ideas and dreams, especially in these COVID times. Politics and racism were there, in a British context, but woven within the brotherliness and friendship of two ordinary black/brown men living their lives. Not quite in the Roy Williams gold standard of modern plays, but still so engaging, a wave of emotions, beautiful touching performances from Danny Sapani and Adrian Lester and a great dualogue for British men.
Also the lighting and production, tho minimalist, was exceptional — really highlighting characters’ interior moods, battles, memories of who they wanted to be and who they are, how Fathers treated sons. Not quite as described though — I thought it was going to address grief and death related to COVID 19 and the 2020s — totally different drama!
Worth a second watch — now know why the music sounded so good — D J Walde!!! Minimalist props and lighting brilliantly used. This tale of long lost brothers is really heart rending stuff, but also immense fun — I love their bonding over music and through dance; how they’re trying to provide, be good family men and fathers and do the right thing, to better themselves and be better men. At the beginning and end, one brother is on the up and one down; but it is still a celebration of male friendship and brotherly love and well, normality. Still stand by my Roy Williams gold standard, but it is wonderful modern writing. Didn’t notice the sweariness second time around; much more emotional and moving on a second watch (less glitchy WIFI helped!)