Marching for Necie, Space on Mile, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
8pB Theatre
Sophie Sweetland (director), Ann Millbery (researcher), show’s cast (writers)
Lulu Ogununga (Necie), Dexter Marchant (Elijah ) Scarlett Spicer (Cecilia), Katie Keet (Irene), Danika Shrader (Maggie ), Chloe Anspak (Annie-Mae ), Jess Newall (Lucy),
Jamie Bertie (Lyle), Dan Johannessen (Eugene), Maisie Peppitt (Ally), Kara Costello (Donna)

Running time

A timeous reminder of the slow steps of justice.

In August 1963 Martin Luther King Jr led a quarter of a million on a freedom march from Selma to Washington DC where he made his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech. In May that year, riots had taken place in Birmingham, Alabama and the atmosphere is tense in that southern state. The focus of these events is on one wealthy extended white Alabama family and their disabled black maid. The characters hold a spectrum of views from deeply conservative to relatively liberal as the issue of the march is a topic in the household.

The rollicking sounds of Jackson from Johnny Cash and June Carter opens this play with five lovelies in authentic 50s dresses prepping and primping in a domestic beauty salon and using the audience as a mirror. There is a similar atmosphere to Kathryn Stocket’s novel and subsequent film, The Help where young women’s aspirations are limited to being husband traps an where degrees on enlightenment allow for change. In this case it is Annie-Mae (Chloe Anspak) who befriends her maid Necie and wants to join the march.

This household of sisters and husbands still living in the old family home, a common pattern at the time, is run by Necie poignantly played by Lulu Ogununga. Necie hirples on a crutch with a pain etched face which is a good metaphor for how much black servants were put upon, seen as invisible and as less than human. Add to this the degradation of hypocritical droit du seigneur behaviour from the male head of the house against a woman whose only man in her life is Jesus and you have the picture.

8pB Theatre is a group of A-levels students. They were given a title and era with the remit of building characters and improvising. Inspired by recent cases of police brutality and negative behaviour towards African Americans, wrote Marching for Necie. Performances vary but Scarlett Spicer is outstanding as the unpleasant Cecilia. The play whose rehearsals only started very recently clearly needs some work, but if they can produce this in such a short time they hold great promise for the future. The irony of the litany of black victims up to the present day read by the character Necie is an apt ending to this brave and worthy play

12 -15 August at 10.55am