Fought between 1853-1856 between Russia – France, the Ottoman Empire and the United Kingdom, the Crimean War witnessed nations battle on matters of religious ideologies, the decline of the Ottoman Empire and expansion of the Russian empire some of the following impacts of the war. Thousands of soldiers risked their lives, the presence of medics vital in the rehabilitation process of many. Celebrated for her contribution to nursing, especially during this historical event with the setting up of the ‘British Hotel’, British Jamaican nurse/doctress Mary Seacole is renowned for her instictive and herbal remedy medical knowledge – something that marked her, alongside contemporary Florence Nightingale as a pioneer of her field. Delving into Mary’s incredible story further, Marys Seacole, created by Jackie Sibbles Drury spans 19th century Crimea to 21st century America and the UK to examine innovations made within medicine.
An incredibly timely watch post pandemic, Marys Seacole places focus on the nurse’s holistic approach towards nursing, her strong, no nonsense, quick-witted yet instinctive personality one that we all immediately connect with. A role equally revolving around care as much as it is about healing, we observe the real, the authentic realities of nursing and the interactions that make up the experiences of those working on wards. Drury crafting a bold, endearing work full of heart. Keeping true to Seacole’s Jamaican heritage, the show’s text brilliantly integrates Patois, giving the evening its warmth and vitality. The constant back and forth between time periods a powerful reminder of how the past echoes and resonates, in certain respects today.
Seacole’s modern day incarnation as an NHS nurse, as well as medical professional leading the way in regards to response team work on the front line of detrimental conflicts powerful, the image of war a harrowing backdrop that quietly haunts. The show’s scale showing no signs of limiting itself to time or space, this an exciting process to watch. Kayla Meikle’s Mary is fearless, a personality full of gravitas – we wait on her every word. Déja J. Bowens’ Mamie is a sprightly, keen, youthful energy looking to follow her mother’s footsteps. Llewella Gideon’s Duppy Mary earthy, Seacole’s mother, she’s an all seeing and all knowing presence. Esther Smith’s Miriam is vivacious, Olivia Williams’ May stoic, Susan Woolridge’s Merry an eccentric energy, Nadia Latif directing a vivid interpretation of Seacole, one that rightfully places her legacy centre stage!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Marys Seacole is currently showing until Saturday 4th June 2022 at the Donmar Warehouse. To find out more about the production, visit here…
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