Trouble in Mind at Theatre Royal Bath – Review

Posted on: 2016-12-06

Our rating:

First shown to a New York audience in 1955, Trouble in Mind has come a long way from a small off-broadway play in the 50's to the international star-studded production it is today. After receiving rave reviews and 5 star ratings, we had to go along and find out for ourselves why this play is taking Bath by storm. Read on for our review:



Before I saw Trouble in Mind I had never heard of some of the main cast members including the star Tanya Moodie, but I now can’t get her out of my mind thanks to her stunning performance as (ironically) an actress, called Wiletta Mayer. As soon as the lights went down and Tanya came on stage as the hilarious, larger-than-life, outgoing character of Wiletta, the audience fell in love with her. When she stepped on stage in the opening scene we could see she was a likeable, fun but also quite complex character. From the get go this play was obviously going to be unlike anything I’d ever seen.

Trouble in Mind at Theatre Royal Bath

Trouble in Mind is set in 1950's America and is about Wiletta’s resistance to the way a white director wants to portray an anti-lynching story. Yes it’s a play about a play, but that’s what makes it interesting to watch. Wiletta’s character is supposed to regretfully push her son to hand himself in to the authorities because he went against the law by trying to vote. If he goes to the authorities he will be lynched, so Wiletta complains that her character is a mother and a mother would never send her son off to be killed. The director tells Wiletta that this is the only acceptable storyline and although he is not prejudiced, the white scriptwriters wouldn’t accept an ending where the son doesn’t die. So Wiletta and her co-stars fight against eachother for what they believe is the truth of their time; the segregation in America and the way black actors are always given stereotypical roles to play.

Trouble in Mind at Theatre Royal Bath

The poignant aspect of Trouble in Mind is that it portrays real life (or at least real life in the 1950's) so although you can enjoy the narrative, you can’t help feeling daunted by the fact that this is true to what life used to be like for African Americans trying to make it in the world of acting. This is what makes the performances of the actors and actresses so raw and at times very emotional. Wiletta longs for a portrayal of a black woman who isn't a ‘mammie’ or a ‘tom’ but inevitably can’t win against the higher white forces that govern the play she’s starring in. When Tanya Moodie cries on cue, but with tears that feel like they’re coming from somewhere deep, it’s captivating; not to mention her hauntingly beautiful singing voice.

Trouble in Mind at Theatre Royal Bath

All of the actors were outstanding but the ones that have remained in my mind as well as Tanya are Daniel Ezra, who is known from BBC’s The Missing, and Joseph Marcell, famous for playing alongside Will Smith as Geoffrey in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Daniel is a newcomer to theatre but going by last night’s performance we’re definitely going to be seeing a lot more of him. Joseph, apart from a hugely successful TV career, has spent many years doing theatre. His gentle character Sheldon Forrester represented the nonchalant attitude of old black men who accepted they couldn’t change the status quo. He was the ‘class-clown’ always making the audience chuckle at his charm and innocence, but on the rare occasion he would stun the audience with his fiery outbursts.



The play was performed in the theatre's separate Ustinov studio which was perfect thanks to the audience's close proximity to the stage and the consequent intimate feel of the room. Trouble in Mind was enchanting and emotionally moving from start to finish, with a compelling ending. The show ends its stint in Bath on the 17th of December 2016 so get your hands on a ticket and witness this unforgettable story.


Contact the Box Office on 01225 448844 or click here.

Article by:

Safia Yallaoui - Editor

Born in Bath, Safia has lived on the outskirts of the city her whole life. After studying journalism in Bristol she now spends a lot of her time searching for new things to see in Bath and soaking up the beautiful culture. You're most likely to find her sipping a soya latte in a lovely little independent cafe! Call Safia on 07468 516375 or email