Tag Archives: Jordan Duvigneau

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

Click here to read all our latest reviews


To Kill a Mockingbird – 3.5 Stars


To Kill a Mockingbird

The Tower Theatre

Reviewed – 25th October 2018


“does a good job of covering all bases, capturing a sense of small town life and effectively enforcing Lee’s message”


Widely read and studied to this day, the plot of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird needs no introduction. That being said, I’m going to introduce it anyway, just in case you (like me) were forced to study less interesting books like Of Mice and Men (sorry, John Steinbeck). Maycomb, Alabama, is a town where racism is a fact of everyday life – which is no surprise considering it’s the 1930s and the Jim Crow laws are still enforced. The politics of race isn’t something that Jem and Scout Finch are old enough to fully understand, but when their father Atticus is called to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of attacking a white woman, they are forced to confront it head on.

But, really, there is no adequate way to summarise To Kill a Mockingbird, because you’d inevitably miss things out. The worry is always that those adapting it will do the same, that they won’t do justice to its many themes, or neglect your favourite character. Whilst it is by no means perfect, Tower Theatre Company’s new production does a good job of covering all bases, capturing a sense of small town life and effectively enforcing Lee’s message.

The play is staged in the company’s new home in Northwold Road, Stoke Newington, which proves itself to be a versatile venue. The broad stage and high, beamed ceilings evoke the feeling of an old-fashioned courthouse in which old-fashioned attitudes are the height of modernity. Three wooden frames are redecorated to suggest different settings: Boo Radley’s house becomes the courthouse gallery, whilst Mrs Dubose’s front garden seats the judge. Visually, the production is slick and adds credibility to the action.

Tower Theatre Company are not a professional company, but many of their performances are of professional quality. Ruby Mendoza-Willcocks’ energetic and committed portrayal of Scout is a highlight. Mendoza-Willcocks perfectly captures her precocious innocence; she is entirely believable throughout. Emily McCormick, who gives a memorable performance as Scout’s friend Dill, provides welcome humour in the midst of tension. The courtroom scene, which is the highlight of the novel, is the highlight here, too, thanks to the quiet gravitas of Atticus (Simon Lee) and Tom (Jordan Duvigneau) and the contrasting anger of his accusers. They perfectly capture the injustice of the situation: Atticus’ direct address to the audience makes us complicit in Tom’s treatment and invested in his fate. Unfortunately other scenes are less evocative, as many of the supporting characters are hurried off stage before their presence can be felt. Additionally, the dialogue is sometimes hard to understand as the actors endeavour to maintain the fast pace.

This production serves to remind us of the beauty, depth, and power of Lee’s story, which is still as impactful today as it was sixty years ago. Despite the occasional slippage out of character (or, more frequently, out of accent), Tower Theatre Company have captured the heart of Lee’s novel and created a production that is as effecting as it is enjoyable.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Robert Piwko


The Tower Theatre

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Tower Theatre until 3rd November



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com