Southern Yacht

My little take on plus size fashion, life, travel and smurfs

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Princess and the Hustler at Nuffield Southampton Theatre

Last night I was invited by Nuffield Southampton Theatre to watch Princess and the Hustler at their City venue*. Set in in 1963 the play tells the story of Phyllis Princess James (known as Princess) and her family at the start of the black civil right movement in Bristol and explores themes of forgiveness, hope, dreams and optimism.

It starts with the opening scene of Princess in her bedroom acting out her dream of winning Miss Weston-super-Mare. Kudzai Sitima is utterly convincing as Princess and you're immediately drawn into all the hopes and dreams of an innocent 10 year old. All she wants is win the beauty contest and have enough money to buy a house for her mummy (and a bike for herself) and to eat choc ices at Weston-super-Mare where all the beautiful people are.

Princess and the Hustler

Princess's world is about to change though. With the return of her estranged father, a new half sister and evolving racial tensions, you watch her heart break as she learns that her dreams might just be out of reach. The play also deals with the mending of relationships between her father and her mother and brother and whether they can learn to forgive.

Princess and the Hustler

At each location, there's an opportunity for local volunteers to join the production as demonstrators or as part of the beauty pageant at the end. This was such a lovely touch - the level of excitement and pride from the volunteers could be felt throughout the theatre.

Princess and the Hustler

Princess and the Hustler

The play really takes you through the whole mix of emotions. It goes from laugh out loud moments to sadness, anger and uplifting joy at the end. It's easy to think that the Bristol Bus Boycott, where a company refuses to hire black workers would be incomprehensible nowadays. But then I remember, this is 1963 - the year my partner was born and only a few years before I was born. It's sobering to think this really is in our lifetime.

Written by Bristol based Chinonyerem Odimba, this is the second production from Revolution Mix, Eclipse Theatre's new writing programme. It just has a two night run in Southampton, but will be playing in Oxford, Liverpool and Newcastle in March and April. It really is a play that will take you on a journey through all your emotions. It tells a story we all need to hear and should never grow tired of hearing.

* Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

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