Two Nightmare Decades

“So you don’t need to showcase your tolerance!”


Yolanda Kettle as Caitlin, Ferdinand Kingsley as Paco, Katie Leung as Kristina, Tamara Lawrance as Ursula and Anthony Welsh as Emilio (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Four people gather in Maryland ready to attend a reunion at Ursula (Tamara Lawrence)’s house.  Ursula has been caring for her grandmother and is not well herself with diabetes and having lost the sight of one eye.  They were the class of 2002 and this is two decades since they graduated. 

At college, they were part of a group called MERGE – Multi-Ethnic Reject Group but I have no idea what this meant.  Emilio (played by a charismatic Anthony Welsh) is the first to arrive and sample Ursula’s alcoholic Jungle Juice, her secret ingredient on top of the vodka and rum is apparently water melon.  Emilio lives now in Berlin and works as an artist and has a daughter. 

I suppose these reunions were in the past the only obvious way to catch up with so many, to find out who was where and who had done what, whose early promise had been achieved. But surely the advent of Facebook leaves little completely unknown.  When the glamorous Caitlin (Yolanda Kettle) arrives, so does political discussion as she is married to a Republican who was a part of the demonstration at the Capitol.  She has the care of his children but none of her own. 

Ferdinand Kingsley as Paco. (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Last to arrive, as absentee Simon is only ever heard leaving cell phone messages, is Kristina (Katie Leung), an ex-Marine and now an anaesthetist with many children exhausting her as well as a career in medicine. Kristina brings with her, her cousin Paco (Ferdinand Kingsley) who was on the fringe of the MERGE group.  Paco has served in the Middle East in the Marines and has epilepsy and PTSD.

There is a paranormal element to this play as each actor, with a echoing duplicated voice reverb speaks the voice of Death, unseen and unheard by any of the other actors.  It was hard to hear what was being said and would be near impossible for those with hearing impairment. 

Alcohol is combined with marijuana and Kristina is determined to party to excess.  Ursula never wanted to go to the reunion, only to meet up with her small group, but the others try to persuade her to join in.   

Yolanda Kettle as Caitlin (Photo: Marc Brenner)

This is the generation who saw in their freshmen year the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 carried out by two of their own generation killing 12 students and one teacher.  In their graduation year there was the violence of the 9/11 attack.  I think the play must have been set in 2022 because there was the devastating success of Donald Trump and the debilitating effect of COVID referred to, but not the killing of George Floyd in 2020.

Despite the trauma visited on this generation, there is plenty of wit and the acting is exemplary. Arnulfo Maldonado’s detailed set is of Ursula’s balcony porch with a faded American flag to the side. The director is Eric Ting who directed the play in New York.  However Jacobs-Jenkins’s  drama never really takes off, and I think that maybe a British audience will not get the glue that holds this year group together.  The promise of comeuppance does not come. 

Tamara Lawrence as Ursula and Anthony Welsh as Emilio. (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Production Notes

The Comeuppance

Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Directed by Eric Ting



Yolanda Kettle

Anthony Welsh

Ferdinand Kingsley

Katie Leung

Tamara Lawrance


Director: Eric Ting

Designer: Arnulfo Maldonado  

Movement Director:Asha Jennings-Grant

Lighting Designer:  Natasha Chivers

Sound Design:  Emma Laxton


Running Time: Two hours without an interval

Booking to 18th May 2024


Almeida Theatre 

Almeida Street

London N1 1TA

Phone: 020 7359 4404


Tube: The Angel

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge 

at the Almeida

at the performance 

on 13th April 2024