Southwark Playhouse (venue)
28 March 2022 (released)
28 March 2022
It's a decade since the original production at the Royal Court that created such a furore dealing with racism and encroaching neighbourhoods, holding a mirror up to the times we were living in back then. That mirror is even more reflective this time around and is a tribute to Bruce Norris's script that exposes racism using brave dialogue that I am not sure would have been written in 2022.
Set in Chicago, It deals with two separate time frames, the Eisenhower and Obama terms of office to highlight the changes in attitude, but also demonstrate how little has actually changed. The play also gives an opportunity for the audience, in the second act, to revel in the new characters connections with their previous family ties.
it is also welcome to see the stripped back staging of James Turner's frame work set exploding out from a miniature 'dolls house' family home to its interior. The actors choreographed to build then deconstruct the room setting, finally removing the architecture of the building itself. This had a dramatic power, that combined with Alex Lewer's narrative lighting added hugely to the atmosphere and poignancy of this production.
This play is written to make you feel uncomfortable about its subject matter. Allowing you to laugh with characters initial dialogue then cringe when their true colours are exposed. Oliver Kaderbhai's direction moves with great skill from moments of the mundane to complete mayhem.
The cast of seven all embody their roles extremely well and in the scene when they fire more and more offensive jokes, as almost battle cries, there is some excellent timing that is sublime. However, it feels that there occasional inconsistencies of acting styles, where some of the more racist moments became over exaggerated in performance. Maybe it is to make them more palatable, but as a result the realness of some characters became weakened.
This feels a play that sits even more importantly in our current times and combines its heightened comedy and shock values in a challenging and thought provoking way.