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.
Four 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
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
Each of the four has hidden
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 personal 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
There is, however, an air 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
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