Martina Laird stars as Jean in Mustapha Matura’s Meetings, which will play at the Orange Tree Theatre this Autumn.
JMK Award winner Kalungi Ssebandeke directs Kevin N Golding (Witness for the Prosecution) as Hugh, Bethan Mary-James (Trouble in Butetown) as Elsa, and Martina Laird (Casualty, Dreamland) as Jean in this poignant comedy exploring identity and belonging.
Meetings premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1982; the OT’s production marks the first major UK revival, opening on 18 October with previews from 14 October and running until 11 November. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re starring in Meetings at Orange Tree Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
The play is set in Port Of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago in 1982. A financially and socially successful couple each reach a point of crisis for different reasons. Hugh becomes gripped by an urgent need to return to the traditional foods of his childhood, which takes him even further down a path of discovery. Jean’s own path towards business success embroils her in a business deal that she loses control of quite disastrously.
What was it about Mustapha Matura’s comedy that made you want to be part of this production?
We lost Mustapha just before covid, which has meant that this is the first chance there has been for a celebration of his work. For me it’s a great honour to be part of bringing his vibrant and satirical take on Trinidad to new audiences.
You’re playing Jean, what do you love about the character?
I love that Jean is so authentic to her personality. She speaks often without filter, which can be comic but also so full of pathos. She is determined and struggles to succeed at life in the terms she understands.
And what do you think you’ll find most challenging about the role?
Jean’s lack of filter and her acceptance of the aspirations she has been fed, mean that she expresses opinions that do not sit well with most people. She has bought into the dream of capitalism at the cost of her own sense of identity as a Trinidadian. What’s hard is knowing that her arrogance actually covers a lack of self-worth.
What’s it been like working with JMK award winner Kalungi Ssebandeke, who is directing?
Right from the start Kalungi has approached this play with enthusiasm bringing ideas that he could not wait to add to this remarkable play. He is such an all-rounder in theatre and that shows in his directing.
What would you say to anyone thinking about booking to see Meetings?
Meetings is a fantastic portrayal of a type of life in the Caribbean that is not often represented. It is filled with Trinidadian authenticity but with an understanding of how the world stage affects smaller countries and communities. This lens is as relevant now as it was then. And the fallout in the personal lives of these vividly drawn characters holds a drama that we can all understand.