Thursday, June 20

Shoes to Fill – Iris Theatre

Part of the Iris Theatre’s Summer Festival at the Actor’s Church, Fair Play Production’s Shoes to Fill is a story of celebration, exploring mixed-race identity and the coming together of two different cultures. Written and performed by Tanya Bridgeman and directed by Alex Miller, the one-woman play mixes elements of spoken word, music, and multi-rolling in a lyrical journey of self-discovery and realisations.

Despite the unfortunate weather that plagued the outdoor setting, Bridgeman was able to truly command attention with her high-energy performance as ‘Granddaughter’, a young woman struggling to find herself. Flitting between her Bajan grandmother’s memories of Barbados, her present inner conflict with her growing self-doubt and her Irish grandmother’s advice, Bridgeman’s performance felt personal and intimate. Her emotions as she suffers from loss, anxiety and feeling out of control were tangible.

Through voiceovers and Bridgeman’s stellar acting, the performance seamlessly transitions between the three characters and their stories. Inspired by Bridgeman’s own grandmother’s stories and struggles, there is a real sense of how these characters have shaped her own identity and inspired her to take risks.

As well as her brilliant emotionally charged portrayal of a 20-something woman finding navigating life extremely difficult, Bridgeman still manages to inject some light-hearted moments. From finding her inner strength by embodying a superhero to her Bajan grandmother’s sharp wit and strong personality, Bridgeman provides some hilarious moments as Granddaughter finds confidence and reclaims her narrative.

From grief-stricken and anxious to finding inner peace thanks to her family, the growth of Granddaughter by the end of the 60-minute play is both invigorating and heart-warming. Shoes to Fill champions mixed-raced voices, exploring identity, grief and mental health in a unique show which is sure to inspire any audience member.

Shoes to Fill is playing at the Iris Theatre’s Summer Festival from 5th to the 10th July. Tickets can be purchased here:   

Reviewer: Gemma Prince

Reviewed: 6th July 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★