Chasing Rainbows is a play about hopes, dreams, success, fulfillment, sadness, resentment, anger and passion …
…all balled up in the decision made by one woman to fulfill her dreams of finding her purpose, her place in the world not realising that everything comes at a price.
Written by Oneness Sankara Chasing Rainbows is inspired by the life of Trinidadian born aerospace engineer, Dr. Camille Alleyne an acclaimed writer, speaker, and educational leader in her own right. Dramatising aspects of her life and experiences this play allows us an intimate look at the effects of a woman balancing her career and motherhood.
Donna Berlin plays Amanda Baptiste otherwise known as ‘Ama‘; a proud Trinidadian, the first person in her family to have gone to university (and in England) and the first Black and Caribbean female astronaut to go to the moon. Ama is proud of her success but also begrudged as those around her including the press who she exclaims ‘Fuck the press’ to. Her family, especially her daughter Sola, chastise her for leaving her husband and child to chase her ambitions and explore the universe.
Suspended above the audience in an orange boiler suit with the image of the sky and clouds as a backdrop, we find Ama in the process of graduation ceremony speech at her daughter’s school but is at odds with how to deliver it. She is lonely and isolated not only in space but also in life, choosing an existence that forever separates her from those she loves. It seems that her success has hindered not fulfilled her as she intended it to.
Emmanuella Toure does an excellent job as Sola, instead of being proud she pours her heart out explaining her resentment towards a mother she no longer knows and wonders how her mother expects for them to repair their relationship, over “a glass of Sorrell or a cup of tea“. Sola’s speech about her mother’s absence is both powerful and emotive and where we once felt compassion for a mother trying to uplift herself, our hearts break for a child missing the usual bond between mother and daughter.
In a world full of white privilege; a world dominated by white men Ama’s master’s degree means nothing as “in England, you are just Black labelled as less before I even open my mouth“. Setting the stage for her two powerful monologues, the first “…If I had a cock“, the second, about black people marching for the injustices we face. Using a mix of rhyming verse and poetry we are cleverly taken through Ama’s highs and lows. The use of lighting and sound throughout Chasing Rainbows, though minimal is impactful, and key to the flow of the performance. The use of mixed media smoothing over some of the visual rough edges.
Chasing Rainbows is an enjoyable, and, relatable play as it explores the story of many from the Diaspora who left their children back home in the hopes of giving them a better life a life in England of America. Its downfall is that it could have been longer. The ending came abruptly with no real resolution, the audience remained silent for a few seconds at the end not knowing whether to applaud or wait for the light to beam back onto the actresses face and for her to delve back into one of her powerful rants.
However, this is a small gripe, for solid production.
Chasing Rainbows runs at HoxtonHall until 20th July 2019. Find out more and book your tickets here.