Tag Archives: Anita-Joy Uwajeh

Brenda's Got A Baby

Brenda’s Got a New Baby


New Diorama Theatre

BRENDA’S GOT A BABY at the New Diorama Theatre


Brenda's Got A Baby

“Come for the comedy and side-line the sincerity and you’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy this show.”

Brenda’s Got a Baby, an original work premiering at the New Diorama Theatre, borrows its title from a 2pac song. The song tells the harrowing tale of a young, impoverished girl who has a baby at twelve that she cannot support and quite literally throws away. Through the story of one girl, 2Pac seeks to lay bare something truthful about the black experience. Jessica Hagan’s piece flips this on its head in this comedy-drama, with emphasis on the comedy.

Brenda, in Hagan’s reimagining, is the presumably white classmate of Ama, a British-Ghanaian, middle class, ex-grammar school girl from North London. Brenda had a baby at 16, plus four more between school and shortly before Ama’s 28th birthday when they bump into each other at a supermarket. It’s here the story begins, with Ama, a high-flyer fulfilling everything her mother and school expected of her, looking down her nose at Brenda. This meeting starts a chain of events that cause Ama to spiral and ask whether her fancy job, new flat and, on the surface, perfect boyfriend offer her everything she needs before she hits thirty.

The first act introduces us to Ama (Anita-Joy Uwajeh), her family and boyfriend. Everything looks great for her and is approached with realism. But just before the interval, Ama decides she must have a baby by thirty and a bomb-like countdown clock appears above the stage, signalling a descent in the second act to totally exaggerated, telenovela style theatre where Ama is driven mad, pretty literally, by her ticking clock.

It’s an incongruous mix. Not just for the fact that it feels like two different pieces smashed together, but for the way serious and sincere topics are treated against the farce. Ama’s sister Jade’s struggle with fibroids seems to make an important point about women’s health, and in particular black women’s health outcomes. But this plays out, briefly, and without much depth, against a bizarre episode where Ama tricks her sister’s husband to come with her to her fertility clinic appointment masquerading as her own husband.

It’s difficult to know what to make of this show. There is plenty that feels underdeveloped, not least the infantilising set of rainbow puzzle pieces. But the comedy is good, both in its writing and performance under Anastasia Osei-Kuffour’s direction. Edward Kagutuzi as Jade’s husband Skippy is hilarious as a sweet and well meaning wannabe Christian rapper, and his physical comedy with Ama’s boyfriend Dami (Jordan Duvigneau) receives plenty of uproarious laughter. It is just that these comedic moments are so outlandish, and the plot twist so wild and unexpected, that the rest of the more serious content fades into obscurity.

Come for the comedy and side-line the sincerity and you’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy this show.

BRENDA’S GOT A BABY at the New Diorama Theatre

Reviewed on 8th November 2023

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Cesare De Giglio




Previously reviewed at this venue:

After The Act | ★★★★★ | March 2023
Project Dictator | ★★½ | April 2022

Brenda’s Got a Baby

Brenda’s Got a Baby

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Grotty – 4 Stars



The Bunker

Reviewed – 3rd May 2018


“The show moves along at a fast pace and there is never a dull moment”


The thought of attending a play described as a ‘dark, savage and unflinching exploration of lesbian subculture in London’ has the potential to polarise an audience and it was with an element of apprehension that I arrived to see Grotty at The Bunker. I left having seen a terrifically well written, acted and directed piece of modern theatre.

Grotty is a fast moving, darkly funny yet ultimately sad semi-autobiographical story, written by and starring the award winning Izzy Tennyson who had recent success with Brute. She is Rigby, an anti-hero who joins the Dalston lesbian scene in London and whose life centres around two very different women. Together they form a triangle and narrator Rigby brings us into her world often speaking directly to the audience with flashbacks explaining her journey.

On entering the theatre we are greeted by a simple but detailed set and are transported to a basement club where it is ‘Clam Jam’ night (a phrase I had to look up on the internet!). The audience then witnesses a sub-culture that has often been confined to the basements of gay clubs and we see some women behaving really badly.

Grotty has a stellar cast of five, playing nine parts and each actor is a joy to watch. Tennyson takes centre stage with her portrayal of Rigby. She has a style of delivery that surely has potential for a far wider audience. The two scenes where she describes lesbian sex and takes some recreational drugs are extremely clever and very funny. Rebekah Hinds convincingly plays two very different characters; firstly the overpowering love interest Toad and also straight Kate. Grace Chilton also plays two parts. As the Witch she is heavily into BDSM and takes Rigby to some dark places. She also plays Elliot who is a completely opposite character and has a great influence in Rigby’s life.

Anita-Joy Uwajeh takes on three very different roles as Natty, Josie and Dr Alexandra. She plays each role with passion and conviction. Completing the cast is Clare Gollop who appears towards the end of the play as Rigby’s mother and whose role really is key to the whole piece.

Hannah Hauer-King’s direction is perfect. The show moves along at a fast pace and there is never a dull moment. However in the first half of the show some of the humour was lost as the cast often continued speaking before the audience had finished laughing. Designer Anna Reid’s set is basic but the use of square pouffes enabled the cast to easily transport us from seedy nightclub to ‘posh flats’. The lighting design from Zoe Spurr was simple but effective as was Alexandra Faye Braithwaites’s sound design.

Writer Izzy Tennyson and Kitty Wordsworth from Damsel Productions should be proud of this show. It has comedy, pathos, some wickedly funny, if questionable, behaviour and is a joy to watch.


Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by The Other Richard


The Bunker


The Bunker until 26th May


Previously at this venue
Electra | ★★★★ | March 2018
Devil With the Blue Dress | ★★ | April 2018
Reboot:Shorts | ★★★ | April 2018


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