Renaya Dennis shines as she reprises her Off West End Award-nominated performance in the leading role of Maz.

Credit: Dan Corbett

The Big House theatre would be easy to walk past. But as soon as you walk through the gates you find yourself in an artistic space which maintains the quirks and charms of its former life, whilst offering a fresh and real space to explore stories that matter. The venue opened in Islington in October 2018 and offers both a theatre and a space to help young care leavers long-term, and to build a positive creative community.

Redemption is a powerful new play-with-music exploring grief, trauma, family and forgiveness. Directed by Maggie Norris (Artistic Director of The Big House), with text and lyrics by James Meteyard and music by The Last Skeptik, this production certainly holds up the company’s ethos of making high-quality artistic work with a social impact.

Redemption follows explosive narrator Maz, telling the truth about her life through her bars, raging at the world and running from a life in care. She meets Tayo (Shaquille Jack), a gentle soul with a silky-smooth voice, seeking a place to belong. Through an immersive promenade the audience follows as they take the first steps of their musical career. Prepare to fall in love with these characters as you move with them through their journey.

There is strong language throughout and the play deals with a range of challenging and upsetting content throughout but is compelling and authentic in its storytelling.

Dennis’ phenomenal talent shines through this piece as the explosive narrator of the story. Her performance is raw, real and heart wrenching. You feel every rant to your bones and every tear sinks to the bottom of your stomach.

Jack’s tender performance as Tayo is beautiful. Every line makes you want to lean in to ensure you don’t miss a beat and his voice is spellbinding, capturing you and keeping you there from the very first note to the last.

Credit: Dan Corbett

The whole cast keeps us gripped as we move through their world, their energy never wavering as you are transported from intimate settings to full on nightclubs. The lighting design and use of video projections brings us into the action seamlessly.

The play itself and the performances are strong enough to inhabit almost any stage and hold its own, but there is an added magic to moving in-between spaces and feeling part of Maz’s journey. You are central to the action, an all-important witness to the challenges they face, utterly gripped and held by this world from the moment you walk into that first room until you end up back there, having gone full circle on a thrilling, gut wrenching ride. 

Now it must be said, I do love an immersive theatre experience, and this has catapulted itself to the top of my list. I loved Redemption and you need to go and experience this for yourself – and you have until the 13th of August!

Accessibility note: The immersive performance takes place as a promenade which includes stairs and a variety of seated and standing options. This renders the play inaccessible for wheelchairs or those with reduced mobility.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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