Review: Is God Is, Royal Court

Aleshea Harris’ vengeance-soaked Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court, with yet another memorable performance from Cecilia Noble

“She made us

Even as you count off the cultural reference points from Greek tragedy through McDonagh and Tarantino, Aleshea Harris’ Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court. As it falls in the honourable tradition of many a vengeance thriller, its unique take and razor-sharp perspective makes for a real theatrical surprise. 

Twins Racine and Anaia were both disfigured in a fire that they believe killed their mother 20 years ago but when a letter from She arrives, naming her husband, their father, as the culprit, a quest for revenge is initiated. And as they travel from Arkansas to California, their road movie becomes increasingly bloodsoaked. Continue reading “Review: Is God Is, Royal Court”

Late summer casting news

Vivienne Acheampong, Adelayo Adedayo, Ray Emmet Brown, Ernest Kingsley Jnr, Tamara Lawrance, Rudolphe Mdlongwa, Mark Monero and Cecilia Noble have been cast in the UK premiere of Is God Is written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Royal Court Associate Director Ola Ince. 

Is God Is by Aleshea Harris will run in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from Friday 10 September 2021 – Saturday 23 October 2021 with press night on Thursday 16 September 2021, 7.30pm.

With set design by Chloe Lamford, costume design by Natalie Pryce, lighting design by Simisola Lucia Majekodumni, composition by Renell Shaw, sound design by Max Perryment, movement direction from Imogen Knight, choreography by Jordan ‘JFunk’ Franklin and special effects design by Susanna Peretz. The associate designer is Shankho Chaudhuri, the assistant director is Leian John-Baptiste, the dialect coach is Dawn-Elin Fraser and the fight director is Philip D’Orléans. Continue reading “Late summer casting news”

TV Review: The Capture

Lia Williams is all kinds of caustic brilliance in conspiracy thriller The Capture

“Accepting you can rarely see the whole picture is part of the job”

I’m working my way through the TV shows I can watch on my free trials on various services, which has lead me to The Capture which aired on BBC1 in late 2019 and somehow completely passed me by. This is particularly egregious since it features Lia Williams the kind of amazing top boss role that makes you wonder why she isn’t better known.

Created, written and directed by Ben Chanan, The Capture takes place in a surveillance state that not too long ago would have been described as a near-future dystopia but now, is just London on a Tuesday. In a society that closely monitors CCTV, so much of justice depends on the reliability of those camera image. But what happens when that confidence is eroded? Continue reading “TV Review: The Capture”

News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court

Writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned ten writers to pen letters that say the unsaid, for a new, online version of their festival My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid).

Produced by Tobi Kyeremateng with support by the Royal Court Theatre, the online festival will run over a week with a pre-recorded letter by Rachel De-Lahay read each night alongside two letters by some of the most exciting voices in the UK read live. Continue reading “News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court”

Review: Cuttin’ It, Young Vic

“We have done it for so long. It is who we are. It has to happen”

A play about FGM – female genital mutilation – could never be easy to watch, it should never be easy to watch. But the genius of Charlene James’ Cuttin’ It – initially written for radio and now expanded with direction from Gbolahan Obisesan – is that it makes it essential to watch, theatrical but still truthful, fierce and yet fearless, if you’re more shell-shocked at the end of a play this year, I’d be surprised.

Told in the form of overlapping monologues from fifteen-year-old Somali-born teenagers Muna and Iqra, Cuttin’ It tells of two very different young women. Muna has been in the UK since she was three, Iqra arrived as a refugee when she was ten and though they now attend the same school, there’s worlds between them. But they have something in common, FGM, and in the space of just over an hour, we see just how much. Continue reading “Review: Cuttin’ It, Young Vic”

Review: Klippies, Southwark Playhouse

“You think because you black you know what it’s like to live in a township?”

In a baking hot schoolyard in a suburb on the edge of Johannesburg, an unlikely alliance gradually builds up between two teenage girls but in a post-apartheid South Africa in its eighteenth year of democracy, the winds of change are blowing strongly across the veld. Thandi comes from a well-to-do Zulu family and has aspirations to be a lawyer, Afrikaner Yolandi is from the rougher side of town and finds herself having to act as a lookout for her brother whilst he strips their teacher’s car for parts. But despite of, or maybe because of, their differences, a bond starts to grow. 

Jessica Siân’s Klippies details the progression of this friendship with a startling clarity that speaks so much of the forthrightness of youth but also of a nation that is changing so quickly in some ways, yet unable to let go of the past in others. Illicit bottles of brandy, homemade tattoos and heady passions characterise their tumble into a wondrous seclusion from the real world but try as they might, the scars of racial politics are hard to escape and the differences in their family situations, though equally troubled, threatens to pull them apart. Continue reading “Review: Klippies, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Rachel, Finborough Theatre

“I hear people talk about God’s justice and I wonder.”

Written in response to the glorification of the Ku Klux Klan contained in 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, Angelina Weld Grimké’s Rachel has the remarkable tag of being the first play by an African-American woman to ever be produced professionally. Despite that, it has languished mostly unseen since then and this revival by the Finborough marks the European premiere and a contribution to the work of Black History Month. It’s easy to dismiss work such as this saying it has collected dust on the shelves for a reason but this fascinating context alone surely negates that and in Ola Ince’s production, dramatic reasons emerge too.

Commissioned by the NAACP (about whom I wrote my undergraduate dissertation oddly enough), it set out “to use the stage for race propaganda in order to enlighten the American people” about the African-American experience and given that it is still an ongoing struggle for playwrights today, what Weld Grimké achieved in the early 20th century is significant. There’s a lack of sophistication to her writing that is undeniable, the overly expositional dialogue clunks once too often in asking its searching questions about comprehension and compromise, as the educated but endearingly naïve Rachel comes to terms with the racist world she must engage with. Continue reading “Review: Rachel, Finborough Theatre”