Bush Theatre Autumn 2019
The Bush Theatre's new
Artistic Director Lynette Linton begins her tenure with a revival of
Jackie Kay's 1986 drama of tradition, identity and – as the title
suggests – black and white, both of skin and of thinking.
women of colour open the play by introducing themselves, giving the
history of their names and thereby showing that they are deeply
rooted in tradition and racial and family history.
In the course of
the play two become lovers, a third surprises them and herself with
the vehemence of her disgust at the 'unnatural' union, and the fourth
tries desperately to maintain peace.
Each of the four has
secrets and emotional scars, and the discovery of the play is that
all the good will, friendship, sisterhood, feminism and racial
identity they possess is not enough to vanquish their person demons.
A happy ending can't
help feeling forced on the play whose natural stopping point is the
rueful acknowledgement by all four that their
personal journeys have some distance yet to go.
The play is filled
with music, and all four performers – Shiloh Coke, Preeya Kalidas,
Anoushka Lucas and Gloria Onitiri – have roots in both music and
theatre, and ably sing and accompany themselves as well as exploring
the depths of their characters' emotions.
There is, however, an
of preaching to the choir in the play – that is, it speaks directly
to women, women of colour, women drawn to women, and women seeking
their identity as women.
Without question it is
those members of the
audience for whom the play will resonate most fully, while the rest
may find themselves looking in from an excluded outside.
That reluctance – or perhaps conscious refusal – of the play to reach beyond those already inclined to be drawn into it means that those In and those Out will have very different experiences.
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Review - Chiaroscuro - Bush Theatre 2019