Peppermint Muse’s Lavendar Junction at Maltings, St Albans

Lavender Junction Lavender Junction

Thursday, July 24, 2014
10:29 AM

Everything about Lisa White’s performance in her own play Lavender Junction last week showed that it was a labour of love.

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For Lisa, of Peppermint Muse theatre company, wrote and performed in the play based on interviews with her grandmother nearly 20 years ago during which she reminisced about life in colonial India and her lifelong love affair with her husband.

And it was clear from Lisa’s absorbing performance that she found her grandmother’s stories fascinating – and more importantly made them spellbinding for the audience as well.

Lavender Junction, which was being previewed at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans prior to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, captures an era which will soon be no more than a piece of history.

It was a time when mothers had little to do with their children who were looked after on a day-to-day basis by their ayahs before being sent off to boarding school. Lisa captured that period perfectly with the voice of the ayah interjecting briefly and compellingly to emphasise the role of these women who were effectively servants but loved unconditionally by their charges.

Left to her own devices at boarding school, the child soon found that punishment was swift and merciless but it was good preparation for her future career in nursing which at first shocked her but which she came to love.

Rather than make it just a piece of story-telling, Lisa allows her grandmother’s character to ponder and reflect on life at intervals before returning to the story in hand and it is an effective device which presents her as a vital and well-rounded character.

The performance ends with what I assume was the tape-recorded voice of Lisa’s grandmother and the interruption in the monologue made it feel as though she was condoning her granddaughter’s mission.

The Edinburgh Fringe will love this show – and rightly so.

MADELEINE BURTON

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