Show: Just Aretha
Location: Bombed Out Church (Liverpool Theatre Festival)
Date: Sunday 8th May 2022
Time: 2.00 pm
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Age Rating: 14+
On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, the audience took their seats in the Liverpool Theatre Festival held in the Bombed Out Church. One might have expected some sort of tribute act when attending a performance named Just Aretha. However this short play written by Victoria Evaristo featuring solo actor, Aretha Nortey was simply about Aretha. A young, black disabled woman, the play considered her thoughts and feelings relating to her disability.
Aretha provides informative background information regarding Erb’s palsy and how a traumatic childbirth resulted in damage to her nervous system and ultimately to her right arm. So, the play is a thoughtful and sometimes comedic observation of disability and culture.
So, she describes her Ghanaian family, their attitude to her disability. Furthermore, we learn about the family Jollof rice and numerous celebrations. The audience were encouraged to learn and sing the Ghanaian welcome; everyone obliged enthusiastically.
We hear about her childhood experiences, good and bad. And how she styles and braids her hair with the help of her stylist. Not to mention how she remains single.
It was a very good performance. She seamlessly took the audience from video clip to musical number to dance routine and then further dialogue. The final information imparted to us was that Aretha doesn’t want to be known as ‘the girl with the arm’ or the ‘disabled black girl’ she wants to be Just Aretha. So, this was a very thoughtful and memorable show.