‘The Big Life’ Returns to Theatre Royal


A musical, ‘The Big Life’, which traces the trials and fortunes of a group of West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom, who arrived on the Windrush in the early 1950s, is being staged by the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London.
Described as a feel-good ska musical, ‘The Big Life’ transports the plot of Shakespeare’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ to 1950s London. On the Windrush over from the Caribbean to England, a pact is made by a group of men not to get involved with women for three years while they work to better themselves. However, this pact does not go according to plan.
The play shows how the initial enthusiasm of the new immigrants, many of whom were skilled workers and professionals in their homeland, was turned into disillusion as they faced outright prejudices, rejection and in many instances had to settle for jobs well below their qualifications and experience.
This play opens with the joyous and hopeful, ‘Inglan we coming’ and ‘Me Kyan wait to get to Inglan”. It is also filled with humour and portrays how, despite the difficulties, West Indians managed to ‘club’ together to help each other endure, survive and even prosper in a sometimes hostile environment.
Many of the actors, musicians and others involved in ‘The Big Life’ are of Jamaican heritage, including the Director, Clint Dyer. The play captures the mood of the period in the music, and charts the stories of Caribbean migrants in their hunt for a better life.
The current staging of the ‘The Big Life’, is the second at the Theatre Royal. The play received favourable reviews when it was staged at the theatre in May last year and played to sold-out audiences. Negotiations are currently underway to have the play staged in London’s West End.
“It’s an important story from recent British history, told in a wonderful, joyous way. Demand (for tickets) the first time was overwhelming, with many people not able to get tickets. That is why we’re bringing it back,” Kerry Michael, the new Artistic Director of Theatre Royal said. The play runs until March 12.

JIS Social