Review: WANTED, The Core Theater, Solihull – The Perfect Play for Black History Month


WANTED by the Gazebo Theater Company of Wolverhampton is a hard-hitting exploration of issues that have gripped generations and still persist today.

Powerful drama littered with comedy, the play touches everything from police brutality, fascism and systematic racism to mental health, social media and Netflix.

Originally staged in March 2020, the show was put on hold as the pandemic gripped the country and very few actually saw it on stage.

Read more:How Solihull Celebrates Black History Month

A specially filmed version of the play premiered to intimate audiences on October 12 at the Core Theater in Solihull to mark Black History Month – but not before it was redirected to incorporate social distancing and winks. subtle eyes to the coronavirus crisis.

WANTED explores the stories of four women united by a passion to stand up for what is right.

They are hosted by April Nerissa Hudson, who plays isolated college student Leoni Lawrence. Passionate about feminism, social justice and poetry, she believes that she belongs to nowhere and turns to historical figures for guidance.

These are Irena Sendler, played by Pamela Cole-Hudson, who saved more than 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation; British Black Panther and women’s and squatters’ rights activist, Olivier Morris , played by Tonia Daley-Campbell; Phoolan Devi , the Indian women’s rights activist and formidable bandit queen turned politician played by Karendip Phull, and Dr James Barry, a brilliant British Army military surgeon who has lived her entire adult life as a man, played by Therese Collins.

WANTED explores the stories of four women united by a passion to stand up for what’s right

WANTED is a show about resistance to the establishment, rewriting history, fighting injustice and, in Leoni’s words, “stirring up shit”.

Cast members including Cole-Hudson and Collins, who wrote the show alongside Daley-Campbell, sat in the audience during the screening of the show, noticing the “surreal” experience of being able to see yourself on stage.

During a question-and-answer session after the screening, the cast kept in mind that the film aired during Black History Month. Collins said it felt “really important” after the death of George Floyd which saw a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Black power and the fight against systematic racism were touched upon throughout the performance, primarily through the revealing and often hilarious monologues of Daley-Campbell as Olive Morris.

“People are people,” principal Nerissa Hudson said after the screening. “All of these women fought for what they thought was right. That’s what we should all strive to do.”

British Black Panther and women's and squatters' rights activist Olive Morris played by Tonia Daley-Campbell in WANTED
British Black Panther and women’s and squatters’ rights activist Olive Morris played by Tonia Daley-Campbell in WANTED

As Leoni continues her education, trying to find her place in the world and “break the chain of poverty”, the show is brought to life by heart-wrenching – and just as often heartwarming – dialogue.

The piece is divided into chapters accompanied by animation and musical interludes in the form of the captivating words of Nerissa Hudson.

Audiences learn about the four women’s amazing accomplishments, from saving children and defending squatters’ rights, advancing medicine and becoming female leaders.

It’s a show about tragedy, uprising, re-balancing of power, and the fight for what’s right – all of which remain appropriate in the 21st century.

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