Oladipo Agboluaje’s Here’s What She Said to Me promises a story told in a combination of “drama with music, poetry and movement”. The run, cut short by the national lockdown, is its world premiere.
This was my first trip to the theatre since March. The Crucible allocated slots in which you must arrive and leave in order to enable social distancing whilst moving through the theatre. Of course, masks were compulsory throughout the visit, and temperature was taken upon arrival. It was, needless to say, a bit different to previous experiences.
The play centres around the lives of three women spanning across multiple generations and continents; we follow Agbeke (Ayo-Dele Edwards), Omotola (Estella Daniels) and Aramide (Kiké Brimah) in their journeys with immigration, identity and injustice but also watch them approach each of these milestones with an unbridled courage and pride following the repeated cruelty with which they have been treated by the world and the men that inhabit it.
It would be a disservice to state that any one of the three actresses stole the show; Brimah, Edwards, and Daniels were all completely brilliant. The fluidity with which they transitioned between the different characters was so effortless that you forget there are only three women on stage. The parallels found in the stories of the women seem far more apparent through this choice of having just three actresses performing every role.
Credit must be given to both director Mojisola Elufowoju and movement director Karin Fisher-Potisk for their engaging use of dance and physical theatre, which can at times come across as somewhat contrived, but felt entirely natural. It was compelling to watch as the women created sounds and shapes whilst miming the majority of their actions using just their bodies and very few props to help them along the way.
Set design from Amanda Stoodley, lights from Andy Purves and sound from Rob Hart did well to merge organic, traditional shapes and sounds with the harsher, more industrial themes found most strikingly in a tree made from coils of wire and light, and in the juxtaposition of modern music against traditional songs performed by the women.
Here’s What She Said to Me is triumphant in telling the unabridged stories of three women who have been otherwise neglected. It is one of the most genuinely moving productions I have seen in a long time.