The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
Lela & Co

"That's how it works here, women wake you up and put you to sleep, they bring you into life and then they ease you into death. Men handle the bits in between." — Lela
Lela & Co
We are warned going in that there will be 25 minutes of darkness in this 90 minute play and although prepared for the lack of light, I was not prepared for the personal trauma I would hear related. Sitting in a hanging half egg basket work chair is a girl in a pink net ballet skirt. The hanging from the chair, the mug of tea with pink spots show someone carefree and childlike. Scarlet velvet curtains line the rear of the stage and LELA is written in bright white neon letters. The floor is bold black and white stripes. Glass balls hang from the ceiling. The man is wearing a gold suit and he has been helping people into the free seats.

Although described as a monologue, it isn't strictly although for most of this play it is Katie West as the girl whose thoughts we hear. She muses on the lot of women starting with her birth and tells us about her two older sisters. She tells us that in her country it is a women's responsibility, "To sing the songs, the early songs and the late songs, the songs of sleeping and the songs of mourning."

This beautifully written play with its poetic feel had me wondering if what happens to this girl is a metaphor for a war torn country, but this is based on a real woman's story. It is a story about opression, the oppression of women by their menfolk.

Lela explains how on the eve of her thirteenth birthday someone, not her, peels off some of the icing on a magnificent birthday cake and she is blamed and beaten by her father. So physically abused by her father, her misfortune continues with Jay, her sister Elle's husband who seems like a sexual predator.

Jay arranges a husband for Lela on holiday when she is 15. The man is a business acquaintance but it is a mixed marriage as Lela comes from the mountains and her people are at war with her husband's people. Her husband repeatedly rapes her, confining her in a room to a mattress until he realizes he can exploit her by charging other men to sexually abuse her. As he does this he tells us how sexually rapacious she is while she contradicts him. The lighting grows dimmer and dimmer until we can see nothing, only hear Lela's account of the brutality and brain washing from her husband to destroy her sense of worth.

One actor David Mumeni plays all the male parts, father, brother in law, husband and peacekeeper. The performance from Katie West is exceptional as she explains the terrible life she had trapped in a brothel generating profit for her husband. She is charming, naïve and matter of fact. Katie looks like the young Maxine Peake and she speaks in a Northern accent. The words are beautiful, the images they paint cruel and disturbing

Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to Curtain Up and from what part of the country.
Lela & Co
Written by Cordelia Lynn
Directed by Jude Christian

Starring : Katie Weat, David Mumeni
Designer: Ana Ines Jabares-Pita
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick
Sound: David McSeveney
Running time: One hour 35 minutes without an interval
Box Office 020 7565 5000
Booking to 3rd October 2015
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 10th September 2015 performance at the Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Lela & Co
  • I disagree with the review of Lela & Co
  • The review made me eager to see Lela & Co
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2015, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from