Strange Fruit

by Caryl Phillips
A Bush Theatre production
Sold out

I go half way round the world and back thinking I’d made some sort of discovery and come back to find the same damn lies, the same white lies, the same black lies.

 

Alvin and Errol can’t picture much of a future for themselves. They’re young, Black and living in England in the 1980s, with an entire country and political system set against them. Angry and restless, they focus firmly on their past – the sunny Caribbean and heroic father they left behind when their mother brought them to England twenty years ago.

But when Alvin returns home from his grandfather’s funeral a new version of their past emerges and the two brothers are caught in a desperate struggle to unearth the truth about their existence.

Powerful and compelling, this faithful revival of Caryl Phillips’ 1980s masterpiece is the story of a family caught between two cultures, and the uncrossable no man’s land that can come between parents and their children. It is directed by Nancy Medina (The Half-God of Rainfall, Persistence of Memory, Dutchman).

Strange Fruit is the latest edition in the Passing the Baton series, following Winsome Pinnock’s Leave Taking in 2018. Passing The Baton is the Bush Theatre’s three-year commitment to re-staging masterpieces by artists of colour who have been written out of history.

‘A work of real substance’
The Guardian ★★★★
‘A story that reverberates, echoes and expands far outside the theatre walls’
Time Out ★★★★
‘Potent and affecting’
The Stage ★★★★
This is a past event
‘A work of real substance’
The Guardian
'A story that reverberates, echoes and expands far outside the theatre walls’
Timeout
'Passionate and heartfelt'
WhatsOnStage
'Powerful play, brilliantly performed, designed and delivered, and well worth seeing.’
Afrodiziak
'Potent and affecting'
The Stage
‘This was a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling watch’
Ebony Online
'Heart rendering [...] it really is a must see'
Theatre Full Stop
'Beautifully played by a talented ensemble'
The Play's The Thing
‘A truly majestic piece, I cannot recommend this more.’
A Younger Theatre

Photo & video

Playwright
Casting
Assistant Stage Manager
Designer
Director
Production Manager
Costume Supervisor
Stage Manager
Lighting Designer
Sound Designer
Fight and Intimacy Director

Cast

Jonathan Ajayi
Jonathan Ajayi’s theatre credits include The Brother’s Size (The Young Vic).  His television appearances include the upcoming Noughts and Crosses (BBC) and the film, The Drifters.
Debra Michaels
Debra Michaels Trained at Webber Douglas. Theatre credits include:  Maria in The Man Of La Mancha at English National Opera; Mrs Alexander/Various in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at National Theatre/UK Tour; Manny/Myrtle in Red Snapper at Belgrade Theatre; Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith; Sadista in Cinderella at Watford; Mama Morton in Chicago; The Mother in Catwalk at The Tricycle; Carmen in Carmen Jones directed by Simon Callow at the Old Vic and on a European tour; Porgy And Bess directed by Trevor Nunn at Glyndebourne and Covent Garden; Barnum; Little Shop Of Horrors; Soul Train; Cinderella; Tricksters’ Payback; Jeckyll And Hyde, Four Note Opera; Sleeping Beauty; Midsummer Nights Dream and The Bottle Imp. Television work includes: Headmistress in Broken for LA Productions directed by Ashley Pearce/Noreen Kershaw, Doctors; Holby City; The Lodge; The South Bank Show Special; The Real Mccoy; The Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Awards And Rites. Debra has worked as a Musical Director on The Wiz at Riverside Studios and Singing Bridges for LWT, and as vocal coach on McDonalds Our Town Story at The Dome.  She also co-created and choreographed The Wedding Dance which received it's premiere at Bolton Octagon prior to a tour. Debra also teaches Salsa and Latin Dance.
Tilly Steele
Tilly Steele grew up in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. She is a graduate of the University of Sheffield and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. This is her first time performing at the Bush Theatre. Her theatre credits include: Barnbow Canaries (Leeds Playhouse), Teechers (Cheltenham Everyman) and Road (Circomedia). Television includes: Doctor Who (BBC), Victoria (ITV) & Career of Evil (BBC).
Tok Stephens
Tok Stephen’s theatre credits include Summer and Smoke (Almeida and Duke Of York’s), Revenants (Pleasance), Boudica (Globe Theatre) and Scuttlers, Summerfolk and Macbeth (RADA).  He has also appeared on television in Grantchester and in the short film Letters.
Rakie Ayola
Rakie Ayola’s theatre credits include The Half God of Rainfall (Kiln Theatre), Leave To Remain (Lyric Hammersmith), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (The Palace Theatre), The Rest of Your Life (Bush Theatre), King Lear (Royal Exchange/Talawa), Crave/4:48 Psychosis (Sheffield Crucible), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Apollo Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (RSC), The Next Room (Theatre Royal, Bath), Welcome To Thebes (National Theatre), Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic), Dido Queen of Carthage (Globe), King Hedley The 2nd (Tricycle Theatre) and Hamlet and Twelfth Night (Birmingham Rep).   For television her credits include Noughts and Crosses, Shetland, Brexit: The Uncivil War, Flowers S2, Vera, Code of A Killer, Midsommer Murders, Under Milk Wood, Black Mirror, Stella, Silent Witness, My Almost Famous, Family, Doctor Who, Holby City, Sea of Souls, Canterbury Tales and Being April.  Rakie’s film credits include Been So Long, Dredd, Now Is Good, Sahara, The I Inside, Great Moments in Aviation, and The Secret Laughter of Woman.

@bushtheatre

@VinayPatel @DeiMcL @bushtheatre This is such lovely news
Deb Pugh
@passengerpugg
16 Apr
This makes me so happy!!! More @VinayPatel is always a good thing - and having him mentoring others is certainly a… https://t.co/wCLWGnSlGW
Deirdre McLaughlin
@DeiMcL
16 Apr
Grateful to @bushtheatre for giving me the exciting opportunity to work somewhere that isn't my flat https://t.co/COGWNNl3gB
Vinay Patel
@VinayPatel
15 Apr
@benelombe @bushtheatre Such a great family to be a part of. Can't wait to be hanging out in the building!
Deirdre O'Halloran
@deirdre_OH
15 Apr
@bushtheatre @VinayPatel @helenmurraypix What wonderful news! Congratulations to all of you!
Musa Okwonga
@Okwonga
15 Apr

Bush Green

Conversations, dispatches and ideas from the Bush Theatre.

Go to BushGreen
Daniel Bailey: Reflections on the last year at the Bush

On Monday 16th March 2020, like most venues across the city, we closed our doors in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It was a difficult time for us and we weren’t sure how things were going to pan out, but looking back I’m proud that the Bush team found ways to keep connected with…

Zoe Paskett: five seminal plays about queer women, by queer women

For LGBTQ+ History Month we reached out to arts journalist and editor Zoe Paskett to share her five seminal plays about queer women, written by queer women. Zoe is a freelance writer who previously worked for Evening Standard, where she covered some of the most exciting cultural activities in London – from theatre, comedy, and…

Our doors are closed for now, but our work continues

Due to the latest government COVID-19 restrictions, the Bush Theatre building is now temporarily closed to the public.   Thank you to everyone who has been able to visit and support us since we reopened. It was a joy to be able to welcome you back into our spaces.  We are determined to find ways…