The Domino Effect opens lyrically in a way reminiscent of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, with a series of vignettes of local East London characters. Teenagers out at night, tagging the streets of Brick Lane; a local drunk who spends all his money on scratch cards; a fox roaming alone at the break of dawn; a butcher with a passion for playing the piano; austere and slightly pompous Mrs. Khan, the shopkeeper. These characters become intertwined, centering around the principal story of Amina, whom we first meet before she is born, when she is a spirit looking down on London from above. Amina chooses to become the child of a quiet, devoted but unambitious clock-maker and his gregarious wife.
The script is gentle, sweet, and empowering, and is realised by an exceptionally talented cast.
The script is gentle, sweet, and empowering, and is realised by an exceptionally talented cast. Their portrayals of the local characters snap into life crisply and the audience is quick to laugh at the charming humour of the personalities. In addition to their superb acting, the players flawlessly execute meticulously choreographed movements. At times they become marionette-like with jolting movements, like rotating cogs of clockwork, depicting the passing of time. At other times they dance in a flurrying domino motion to embellish the show’s motif of relayed cause and effect. The play is set in a neighbourhood brimming with colour, consisting mostly of immigrant families. A heart-warming optimism runs throughout the play, as not only the central characters - Amina and her parents - but also the rest of the locals, run into adversity and overcome it.
The set, music and props are put together beautifully. Tinkling wind-chimes are particularly effective in adding a sense of magical wonder to the action. The show stars eight pupils of Mulberry School for Girls, a local comprehensive in London, with a script by resident playwright Fin Kennedy. It is so impressive that such young players can put on such a level of performance. I sat through the entire show with a smile on my face.