I had been due to review Baaba’s Footprints at the Vaults Festival in March 2020, the fast spread of COVID-19 saw me cancel my review diary just before the Theatre’s all shut. For the first time, I didn’t feel safe travelling to London. Now for the new Oncomm category in the Offies franchise, I can now review this production from home. I am not sure I could ever get used to reviewing this way however, for now, it’s my only contact with the Theatre world.
Yu (Eyre Kurasawa) loses her job at 39 leaving her bereft and suffering from an identity crisis as she begins to question her life. The pressure to marry is pushing down heavily onto her shoulders yet she likes her life the way it is and enjoys being single. However, peer pressure keeps telling her it’s time to settle down and get married fulfilling the role that is expected from her. Yet rather than staying and succumbing to others expectations, she chooses to grab her passport and travel to San Francisco.
The choice of country isn’t just a random decision Yu chooses to follow in her Grandmother’s Takako (Tomoko Komura) footsteps. Takako had embarked on this journey at 16 and had been one of the “Japanese Picture Brides” who were married on paper and travelled alone to their new husbands and a new country armed only with their passport, bag of belongings and a photograph of their betrothed.
Throughout the play, there is a strong sense of identity and the inability to settle down where neither woman feels as if truly fit in. I think this story can translate across to anyone regardless of gender, race or sexuality as many people struggle with fitting into the roles that they believe they should be fulfilling.
Susan Hingley’s new play balances the generations and timelines smoothly. Although circumstances between the generations were different the feelings of loss, disappointment and not fitting in are shared across the timeline by both generations.
Hingley’s writing is superb in bringing together a strong well-balanced look at how the characters felt about themselves and their place within the world while at the same time it took account of how they perceived others possibly saw them too. After all, nobody is ever certain about how the outside actually views us.
Baaba’s Footprints is set at a fairly fast pace and watching it on the screen lost some of the Theatre magic ones gets from Fringe Theatre productions. The cameras angle was pretty good but I would have liked to have seen more of the entire stage throughout the performance. I sincerely hope they bring this back to the stage at a later date as I want to experience the whole performance.
Director Ragga Dahl Johansen overlaps scenes smoothly where the audience watch Grandmother’s role as a young wife talking about everyday life while Yu observes silently close by. The two characters never interact as they are in different time periods yet they are close enough to touch each other. A simple yet extremely effective stage direction.
The current link to watch this production is linked below. You can choose between the Online Fringe Festival and Scenesaver.