Friday, January 27

House of Ife – Bush Theatre

House of Ife follows a family repairing from the tragedy of losing a son, as the house reduces from 4 children to 3 the wounds that are desperate to heal remain open from the secrets buried around Ife’s death and the reason for his devastating path.

Closing in around them are 4 walls, opened for view with bright saturated colours and a small amount of possessions. Books fill a small shelf although the only book referenced is the Bible, as the children reminisce on growing up with their dad who now lives in Ethiopia with his second wife and second family. We begin at the funeral, decorating the house as three children are set with the task to make it appropriate. Immediately we cut through the tragedy with the lightness and humour of grieving someone they knew would have wanted light and music but caught swiftly by Mum who believes to grieve is to be feral, to shed skin and wail. The opposing ideas shift us into the unstable relationships between parent and child with the challenge of respecting tradition but also yearning for respect of the wisdom they have gained from their own life.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Director Lynette Linton takes us through a short and intense few days with this family and in the horrific exit of one member, calls for the return of another. Soloman (Jude Akuwudike) flies home to grieve with his family but brings with him news of his own. Aida (Karla-Simone) who was the twin of Ife struggles with the haunting of his spirit as she tries to perfect his portrait to put him to rest. Mother, Meron (Sarah Priddy) is a lighthouse to all of her children and mostly to Tsion (Johanna Ephrem) and Yosi (Michael Workeye) who have their own perspective of their brother’s passing. This piece is written so beautifully by Beru Tessema which is so much more than a family drama but finds so much depth in how to confront the past through a crippling fear of not just defying your parents but your elders everywhere, who raised you through religion and tradition. It also highlights the disappointment your parents can give you, that as siblings it is okay to see your parents as imperfect even in controversy of their own beliefs and ultimately there won’t be a bond stronger than the ones you share with your siblings.

I shared a really beautiful experience with this audience as we all stood to a applaud at the end and I truly hope that the cast and crew are graced with that reaction every evening as it was powerful, honest and I can’t wait to read more of Tessema’s words.

Playing until the 11th June,

Reviewer: Alice Rose

Reviewed: 4th May 2022

North west End UK Rating: ★★★★