facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre

African Snow

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

Commissioned to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Slave Trade Act, African Snow sold out its run at the York Theatre Royal earlier this year. The parallel tales of repentant trader John Newton and educated slave Olaudah Equiano are interwoven by writer Murray Watts as the two meet, both in the mind of Newton and in a possible reality – there is no proof that the two met, but it is probable. Matthew Amer attended the first night at the Trafalgar Studio 1.

John Newton is a man consumed by guilt. He has made money by trading humans. It seemed like the natural thing to do at the time; that was the done thing. But looking back the heinous effects of his actions leave him in need of forgiveness. As he sits in his room, trying to write the perfect hymn, his mind wanders and he flicks through the autobiography of freed slave Olaudah Equiano.

In his imagination Equiano's tale becomes real, as does Equiano himself, who talks to Newton, interrogating him on his choices. Israel Oyelumade's central performance as Equiano is energetic and lively with a surprising dryly comic turn. He is the beating heart of the performance, driving the show forward.

Equiano's story is important and thought-provoking. Stolen by slave traders, split from his sister who haunts his memories, he was fascinated by words and their power. Though forced into a world of servitude, he had ambition and no setback or oppression was ever enough to confine him.

Newton (Roger Alborough) does not come out favourably in this telling of his story. Even after the realisation that his previous selfish actions were not, as he previously thought, fine, he does not, until the very last moment, have the courage to publicly speak out. You can have little sympathy with his need for forgiveness.

But it is the imagery and truth of Equiano's life that stick in the mind; the cook forced to wear a muzzle to prevent her from eating, the struggle to improve himself only to be put down again, the hanging by his feet to teach him manners.

African Snow plays at the Trafalgar Studio 1 until 5 May, before touring to Mold, Birmingham, Hull, Bristol, Brighton and Ashton-under-Lyne.

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.