My White Best Friend (and even more letters left unsaid) sees the Bunker Theatre start the process of going out in a blaze of glory
“It’s all we can do to listen”
There’s a couple of months before the Bunker Theatre closes its doors but it does seem a rather wonderful f*** you to bring back their inordinately successful mini-festival and sell out every night before the run even started. Developers may gain from taking over this space but as evidenced here in this kind of forward-thinking, thought-provoking production, London’s theatre ecology stands to lose a lot.
Co-curated by Rachel De-Lahay and Milli Bhatia (who also directs), My White Best Friend (and even more letters left unsaid) is a raucous piece of gig theatre, centred on a provocation to a range of cracking writers to write letters “that say the unsaid to the people that matter most”. Those letters are then read to a standing audience, sight unseen by different actors every night. And there’s a DJ-led afterparty too, even on a Monday night!
The evening ends up hooked around the titular letter, written by De-Lahay and read by Inès de Clercq which is the only letter performed every night. Probing at notions of privilege from the very beginning (the audience is asked to reconfigure itself with white men at the back and brown and black women to the fore), the eloquence of the writing is underscored by an undeniable anger at the state of the world and its inherent unfairness as it pulls back the covers on how deeply even ‘micro’-aggressions can cut away at friendships.
My evening also saw Emma Dennis-Edwards’ missive to her older, whiter, richer ex read by Tom Motherdale (recently so good in Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.) with a delicious dryness (hearing him say ‘weird flex’ was a highlight of the year!) soon replaced by a scorching honesty. And Susan Wokoma brought real gravitas to Mika Johnson’s deeply moving love letter to the black and brown queens ill-served by gay history, lamenting how little has really changed even today. A necessarily uncomfortable experience and one to which it behoves all of us to listen carefully.