A new baby signals hope, as does an unopened letter. Hope that things will be better. Fans of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series are sure to love the stage adaptation of the book, which was also turned into a BBC series a couple of years ago.
Sephy Hadley is a Cross, and her father is also the Home Secretary, Callum McGregor is a Nought, and his mother was the housekeeper to Sephy’s family, until she refused to lie for Sephy’s mother and got sacked. Having grown up together, Callum and Sephy continue their friendship in secret as in their world Crosses can’t be seen to be mixing with Noughts, especially not one from a high-profiled family. Things appear to be changing when Callum is one of three Noughts who have won a scholarship to be allowed to go to the same school as Sephy. Can their friendship, and the possibility of more, survive the social and racial obstacles?
Effie Ansah is practically perfect as Sephy, from her young naivety and hopefulness all the way up to the more mature Sephy we see in Act 2. She plays so well off James Arden’s Callum. You felt as though they cared for each other and felt a part of their journey. You hurt when they hurt, laughed when they laughed and they were definitely a leading pair the audience were completely behind. Chris Jack, when he was Kamal was truly the villain of the piece and you know that whenever he appeared, it was not going to be good news. Yet, as the teacher, he showed compassion and caring. The role really shows off how versatile he is as an actor. Nathaniel Mccloskey, as Jude McGregor was also a standout in the show. It was clear that Jude had a chip on his shoulder and would do anything for Nought rights.
The set and lighting, by Simon Kenny and Ben Cowens, respectively, worked completely hand-in-hand and enhanced the acting and words. The gallows scenes felt truly soulless and harrowing, as you would expect them to have been in real life. it was extremely clever how the sets and lighting also made the audience feel things and we weren’t just relying on the actors to make us get emotional.
If you’re a fan of the book, or a fan of Romeo and Juliet in the modern age, with a social, political and racial commentary, then this is definitely the show to see! You won’t be disappointed!
Noughts and Crosses is at the Liverpool Playhouse until 26th November, then it continues on its UK tour next year. Tickets are available from www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/noughts-crosses or www.pilot-theatre.com/past-work/noughts-crosses
Reviewer: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 22nd November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★