Call ME by YOUR name.
Just when we were all starting to ask essential questions on the validity of the bible and its sexism throughout... specifically through EVE - then this lil(ttle) nas(ty) "comes out”!!
Using the very concept to bind us back into a belief, of a system rooted in fear and oppression.
How very frustrating.
You weren't questioning?
I invite you to question everything - it’s a strong way of becoming more informative and knowledgeable. Questioning can be very scary, especially when the concept of hell is hovering over your head. But remember - you are asking the question to become more informative not because you agree or disagree. Questions are an expansive tool that sets you free from bondage, and in the KNOW - and I guess I write this in hope that being free from bondage is something we all want to achieve!
“My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge” - Hosea 4:6 KJV
So let's get to questioning but first we have to see... what's all this noise about.
Let's start with my favourite...
So what does 'Call me by your name' mean?
I come to these answers;
a) Montero is saying, if the bible says this - "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" then I am what YOU call me (Satanist, Devil worshipper etc) and I'm going to embrace that!
And I included the above because the term Satanism comes about as an accusation by Christians. What that means is anyone that did not subscribe to their concept was a Satanist. And I wont go into the ancient meaning here but...
If Africans pre-date Jesus are they Satanists? If homosexuals accept Jesus as their personal saviour are they are Satanists?
b) Call ME by YOUR name is this not what many of us from the diaspora are carrying as well as many people from the continent adhering to?
- Hi MY name is Smith... Smith?
- Hi my name is Babatunde but YOU can call me Toby... Toby?
Sir names are Surnames
c) The video just has one person in it.... Call ME by YOUR name... are we talking about our own reflection? Are we (is he) asking our inner-selves to identify with our outer exterior?
Questions. There's always an answer to questions. Here's another one..
Have you read my last review of SOUL the movie? - Click the link... it's pink!
Call me by your name is the name of an actual film! Released in 2017 and set in the summer of 1983, this film is about a homosexual underage relationship... maybe this lil(ttle) nas(ty) is influenced by this.
Here's the trailer.
But this is a review of the song rather than the film because the SONG... the music... the vibrations is a lot more hypnotising... I mean triggering.
But why has this song caused this reaction?
Is it because of its homosexual or biblical concept?
The merge of both is used as a reverse psychological tactic to attract attention and unify the phobia of hell with homo-phobia.
MARKETING STUNT ALL THE WAY. And the relationship between religion and sexuality
is a scandalous affair that has been in action for decades!
And not just surrounding homosexuality, but to all sexual orientations. As this Concept/ system of oppression wants to control. Control? Control!
Take marriage for instance, the old census, before people fell victim to having to declare your private business online. For the majority of relationships they are rooted in the Concept of marriage. If you don't aspire to have that good ol' system of oppression validate your private union then..."You have low self esteem" #shoutout
If you just want FUCK - an English swearing word - then you are an incomplete person.
Have we ever asked the question - what does F.U.C.K mean?
Control of the
And so what we think is a free act of our own sex(uality) has always been governed. And the system of oppression has always demonised those that do not bow down! Call ME by YOUR name :)
And by entering into the circle of this cult-ure - without knowing it - you truly do risk being a slave to it... which must be HELL!
Call ME by YOUR name is clever (Intelligent); cunning (Skill in achieving one's end by deceit) and colourfully plays hugely on our indoctrination.
"Let us" Re-member the symbolic power and ritual of blood is not just embedded in concepts of hell, Satan and trainers.
But by the rituals we do everyday. The blood in the food that we eat; his (Jesus') blood that we drink; the blood in the flesh that we pierce; the blood in surgical procedures that we rely on; and the blood that we (wombmen) - descendants of the first mother - shed.
BLOOD IS A CONTRACT!
And whilst the system of oppression decides the concept of what is acceptable through sex(uality)... Call me by Hathor not (your name) Eve...
Do we know the history?
How timely was this video??
As a gift meet Eostre... the fertility goddess. That scandalous affair between religion and sexuality
has been in action for decades!
“My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge” - Hosea 4:6 KJV
✮✮✮✮✮ - Because the Concept was brilliant, and it was a REVEL-ATION.
Arise by Zara McFarlane
've just discovered this brilliant artist, whose album I'm obssesed with! Have your heard of her? Her name is Zara Mcfarlane
Zara is a British Jazz and Soul singer from East London. Her rendition of Police & Thieves gives me goose bumps and is on repeat on my playlist currently. I am particularly attracted to her sound as an ex saxophonist... and actually, my herstory as a jazz musician is filled with regret - as it's one of those events in my life where I stopped doing what I loved because no one around me did it and no one in the bands I was a part of looked like me! Thank God for artists like Zara Mcfarlane who are not just excellent in what they do, but are iconic and represent and persevere despite the obstacles and exclusion!
Have you heard or do you own any of Zara's Albums?
Comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Buy Zara Mcfarlane's album today - and ARISE
The High Table by Temi Wilkey
I was privileged enough to be invited to The High Table at the Bush Theatre, as you know titles are very important to me - and this title made me feel exclusive!
Meet Tara and Leah – Black and Woman and getting married!!
Say it loud!
I'm Black and... Proud?
With Black and Proud having a whole new spin – I was seated around the ancestral circle of a press night filled with black creatives – celebrating the union of an often hidden affair.
Antennas on up!
I was skeptical at first – because my traditional mindset means I’m from the school of not wanting to expose unresolved issues or topics within the community… the black community. This is because my trust for external (non-black) communities is at an all time low.
I have found that when other communities are presented with our issues they use it as a means to manipulate rather than aid in progression... i.e.
“Nigerians and Jamaicans don’t get on do they?”
“Black guys have told me that Black women are really aggressive!”
“I wish Tanisha was like you and stopped wearing that awful wig!"
So… my antennas (uncovered and out of the wig) were up!
The whole Cast, Writer and Director alongside the majority of the audience were black so why were my atennas up?
Did I truly accept the black gay community as belonging to the Black Community?
Was this play going to ridicule my community as a way to under handedly appease whiteness through the guise of gayness?
This was my concern... but as part of my own process, the development in my ability to critically think and my constant communication with myself about my concerns - is in fact to grow... and my learning definitely grew...
Actually, what I experienced was a new type of community that was vibrant, bold and challenged rigid boxes of identity... both the production and the audience.
But for the sake of the box which is this review I want to look at a theme that The High Table presents and that is to be Black and Gay.
I think that the black gay community belongs to two (at least) marginalized groups – groups that have had their narrative demonized, and are silently longing for appreciation.
How then the black and gay community are portrayed then, is therefore very important because of discrimination.
And although black is not synonymous with heterosexuality and homosexuality is not synonymous with white, I think (maybe because of patriarchy and colonisation) the black straight person and white gayperson hang onto these privileges to navigate through life.
So then... to be Black and Gay and Female – What do you hang onto?
The High Table does a great job at delicately navigating, questioning and celebrating all of these things. Responding with humor, his(her)story and love. Taking their rightful seat at The High Table of inclusivity.
Black and Proud!
High up in the Stars!
What I thoroughly enjoyed was The High Tables exploration of the root of homosexuality and the education of this type of relationship existing pre-colonized Africa.
With Valentines Day recently, and my current revelation about the origins of Romance - I am desperate for us all to look at what has influenced conventional relationships, in particular black love.
I watched in delight.
Relaxed my antennas (rather than my hair lol)...
as The High Table celebrated blessings from the ancestors through dance, communication and love imbedded in Tara and Leah’s African relationship!
The High Table is at the Bush Theatre until 21st March
Directing by Daniel Bailey
Writing by Demi Wilkey
It’s Saturday afternoon, the time is 2:20pm - and the 68 bus that I’m on is taking its sweet time to get to the stop I need.
I have anxiety...
2:26pm and I’m running now – organising in my mind what to do first. Get ticket or use bathroom?
The last time I came to watch a theatre show here I was bursting to go and had to leave halfway through... so I NEED to use the bathroom
2:29pm and I’m on time. Breathe!
I mention my journey - my usual frantic journey - where time is a constant challenge, to give you a Fairview of how living in this high demanding city for some... isn't a Fair-f**k@%g-view at all!
Talking of stressed out - the statistics in the UK are currently through the roof for Black Mental Health... have a read... Fairview?
I enter the auditorium... (like actually inside where the production is) for this Saturday Matinee... and join (with some hesitation as you don't usually have to wait inside) the 'Lucky Dip' line.
The line appears to be made up of the under 40’s and ethnic... so, I join...
Tall Brown Skin Man (30ish): Have you got a ticket?
Tall Brown Skin Man (30ish): Oh. So you don’t have to queue then, you can just go to your seat
ME: So what are you all queing for then?
Tall Brown Skin Man (30ish): We couldn't get a ticket, so we have to wait until the beginning of the show to be seated
I hesitantly move away from the queue... away from the non-white under 40's to take my seat... Fairview?
I struggle with the concept of luck...
I cannot comprehend things just happening... because, well they happen?!
And the way my sychronicity is currently - I have a belief system whereby I read (maybe too much) into the clues from the cosmos.
Could it be, that as I transcend out of my working-class, survival mode mentality... I think I can control my future?
Therefore, superseding luck... is this a fairview??
A quick digression but check this out and see the 9 Signs That You Are In Survival Mode:
To further my journey - not to the theatre but in my alignment with cosmic energy I do not see my colour as either good or bad luck - see my review on CATS on how the black cat, played by a white male became good luck.
The state of affairs regarding class and race in this country is only a reflection of the sickness of those inflicting pain - and as someone who is being hit - my mind (at times) transcends to a calming, peaceful realm as there... there is no pain!
Back to this reality...
So I take my seat on the 5th row, 1 in from the sea of white faces that are already in theirs and remember that I was shouted out on twitter because… well, because of the lack of black faced audience members and black faced reviews.
Before the curtains open I know that the people on stage will, unlike the audience, look like me and my prediction is right.
What seems to be a play about a middle-class African-American family reverses the racism of socially constructed labels back on... well the labellers. And attempts to deconstruct like never before!
The twists and turns and ultimate chaos the play presents and causes internally, in real-time, is something that you just have to experience.... but trust me is a necessity for the status quo and left me in complete and utter shock!
It looks unapologetically into racial constructs and stereotypes which I loved - and mixed and messed with the middle-class (also White) image of beauty and perfection and the grotesque, ugly (Black?) image.
Without going into too much detail and spoiling what are crucial parts of the whole production, this plays title - under investigation - gives a Fairview of just how some of us experience a world that is the polar opposite.
What I found extremely satisfying is its attempt to close the 'safety gap' in a White English audience not fully taking responsibility or feeling the effects of racism because of the obsession with presenting Black American stories... therefore it is White Americans only that are evil.
Fairview is innovative, exciting, challenging as well as uncomfortable and disturbing, but this is the point and this is theatre.
If you can (if you're lucky) go watch it at the Young Vic asap... it finishes Thursday 23rd January!
Jackie Sibbles Drury
A Kind if People by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
A Kind of People at the Royal Court is a modern day, thought provoking, vibrant piece of theatre – based in London and wrapped in everyday politics that captured my attention from beginning to end.
I found it so refreshing to go to the theatre and experience a London that I am used to; a London that I grew up in; a truly diverse London – and not just ‘diverse’ because of its inclusion of different races – but diverse because, with each socially constructed box that was ticked, it raised the multi-faceted, lateral view points, belief systems, conflicting and contradicting topics that just do not ‘fit’.
Where do I begin??
To break convention lets start at the end… that was actually the beginning. The last scene of A Kind of People, which I found the most jarring – the epilogue.
According to Wikipedia the definition of an epilogue in a play -
is a short piece that wraps up the end of a story. ... Epilogue comes from the Greek word epilogus meaning the conclusion of a speech.
Photo Credit - Manuel Harlan
So that's the meaning, but I found that the epilogue in A Kind of People - went back in time, to the beginning (like a flashback in a film), and revealed how Nicky (played by Claire-Louise Cordwell) and Gary (played by Richie Campbell) - the central characters - first met.
Unlike a flashback moment in the TV/ Film medium, this didn't work for me! And whilst I always want theatre to push its usual conventions, something about the jump from the scene before (which I thought would have been an excellent ending) to this epilogue, sat weird with me.
Claire-Louise Cordwell and Richie Campbell, however, did a fantastic job at jumping emotionally from one extreme to another. But this wasn't enough - and I felt that the inclusion of an epilogue 'explaining where it all began', was unnecessary.
We get the love and chemistry of Nicky and Gary's relationship strongly throughout the play and the epilogue, for me, was an attempt to not demonise Nicky's character - therefore shying away from/ avoiding the hard-hitting, candid reality of what potentially drives people over the edge! And whilst I found A Kind of People a humorous, relatable experience - my desired ending (Scene 10) exposes the tragic effects society has on our personal relationships and on our children.
The ‘Diverse’ political Themes
Photo Credit - Manuel Harlan
Epilogue aside, A Kind of People did a brilliant job at displaying different Kinds of People.
You should know by now how I love relevant titles!
We are taken on an emotional journey of;
- The unconscious bias that exists in corporate Britain
- The off key (frankly racist) one liners that come from the 'wanna be down' white people (or brown!)
- Good times with music and wine (or proseco) - because regardless of the politics we are all experiencing London in this time
- All the intricacies that come from being from more than one culture... more than one race
- The challenges that explode in your face when your ethics meet your childs future.
- The unity and disparity that comes, just by living in London.
It was so refreshing to watch a play whereby the Black actors express their British-ness – their Caribbean British-ness… and are not doing an African/ American accent which has irritatingly become trend and the norm for many Black British actors… whose norm is a British accent. I think what I'm trying to say is that this play reflected highly my perspective of me and the people around me!
What was also very refreshing – and something that is seldom seen on a mainstream stage, was the conversation between Gary and Karen his sister (played by Petra Letang) at the beginning of scene 7, and the specificity, hypocrisy and complexity of being Black and Jamaican and British.
Gary: Living? Us lot, we’ve hardly survived. Do you know the Caribbean population in this country is dying out? The Africans are taking over. One more generation and we’ll be gone.
These words are loaded with paradox, blame and evasion of individual responsibility – especially as Gary is a black man with a white wife and mixed-race children. But I loved the inclusion of these contradictions from many of the characters because I find that real! We constantly contradict, as we constantly evolve... and I'm coming to accept that that is just part of being human.
Another major theme, and the above example expanded, is the question of ‘the system’ and how we all fit into it; comply with it; see it; cope with it - dependent on our race, class, gender and education.
This play is ram packed with this question at every turn, and the visually, stereotypical, square characters – all challenge who you assume they are at some point during the narrative.
An example of this is Anjum (played by Manjinder Virk) and Mo (played by Asif Khan) a British Pakistani couple, neighbours to Nicky and Gary. Anjim and Mo understand and experience the oppression of race and feeling inferior. However, they are from another class, so do not fit neatly into the non-white box simultaneous with poverty. And although they have 'worked hard' for what they have - they are divided in their parenting on whether or not they want the same experience for their son. And 'by any means necessary' ensures their son qualifies to private education.
I was torn into pieces over whose politics I agreed with, because of how loaded, in-depth and thought through the characters were. I even really enjoyed Amy Morgan’s portrayal of Victoria – Gary’s ‘superior’ white, female manager - that lives in the privilege of executing unconscious bias.
If theatre is a medium to change and evolve its audience - then Gary and Nicky’s children, who are never seen, really did this for me. Their absence from the stage made them the focus, the main characters and had me seething in my seat at how society (as well as individual choices) always end up having the harshest impact on the lives of our young.
The tragedy is that we all seem to be caught up in a catch 22 system!
I want children; but refuse to raise them intentionally alone. I’m strict with this! So strict that I have come to realise, imbedded into who I am attracted to is also my unconscious bias of how brilliant a parent he will be!
In A Kind of People – the tragedy (which I will not spoil) exposes a very real issue about the decision and choice to procreate, and with whom. And I don't think the solution is to do it alone if you can financially afford to either.
Scene 10 (my preferred ending) see's both Gary and Nicky fall apart... but what about the children? It really made me realise the value of investing in yourself psychologically and emotionally (as two single individuals first). That way once you're done sorting yourself out - YOU are equipped 'by any means necessary' to put the children first!!
Gary: Living? Us lot, we’ve hardly survived. Do you know the Caribbean population in this country is dying out?
Unlike the epilogue - that too quickly tidies up the ending, taking away from the crux of the play – I thought the true ending (scene 10) attempted to expose the ugly effects of poverty and discrimination. And whilst I understand how horrific the scene is - loved it!
Check out this short video by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti on the Power structures and inequality in A Kind of People... our society!
The Heroine… My Epilogue
I’ve been a fan of Petra Letang since Babyfather in the early nought-ies.
A few years ago I saw her at the Screen Nation awards and boy did she have presence!!
Letang does a brilliant job with her character Karen... as a sister... to Gary - and although not on stage enough, every moment was optimised, offering some of the best one liners of the play.
Letang's incredible comedic timing had me in stiches, and there was a moment where she waited for the audience to gain composure and repeated her line again, for those who didn't hear it the first time.
I also enjoyed the subtlety of her alcohol dependency, her relationship and bond with Nicky and her scorn for creepy Mark (played by Thomas Coombes), Gary's work friend... who just is always there!
It was no surprise then that Karen - despite her own issues of loneliness and being a single parent was the saving grace for these Kind of People! The glue - for a cast, that may experience a fragment of discrimination... but she encompasses many more obvious fragments, and yet 'Still She rises' from class to race to gender to singleness to....
You get it.
The true heroine, that rescues Gary and Nicky from a brutal, unforgiving system that is against them for the beginning.
Like her character both on the stage and off, it is Letang's image that is most definitely representational of London. Modern day. Vibrant. Diverse. Hero(ine)!
A Kind of People at the Royal Court is on until Saturday 18th January and I highly recommend this one!
Directed by Michael Buffong
A star retracted for the epilogue
Extremism by Andres Lustgarten
Having recently performed at Theatre Peckham in Trade, and it actually being my local theatre, I was delighted to be invited to the Press Night of Extremism.
The foyer was buzzing! Buzzing with laughter, conversation and diversity, and so on entry I felt right at home.
Did you know that Southwark has the youngest and most diverse demographic in London?
No surprise then that Extremism is a direct, candid exploration of what it means to live in a multicultural city whereby your belief systems, ethnicity and politics may be extreme-ly different to your neighbors.
Further to this, the in-direct, composed cultural associations of being British are changing. Extremism not only demonstrates this cultural shift in young people, but also raises some thought-provoking questions about how to determine who is a terrorist!
How do we find similarity when members of our community look and dress so different?
Do we need to, in order to live peacefully?
Is it just about the peace in our lives… or is the peace of others just as important?
*Prevent is a Governmental anti-terrorism programme, that advises those in positions of trust such as teachers, doctors and nurses to be the eyes on the ground and report any suspicion of radicalization.
But from whose perspective, and are the “eyes on the ground” clouded in un/conscious bias?
In an age when we are collectively questioning who taught us what and why - I found this production immersive, hard-hitting and very triggering. Set in a school classroom from the perspective of sixth formers – we (the audience) join the students and are seated at desks in the round. We are all pulled back in time to our school days, to our classrooms and reminded of how brutal our peers can be.
Extremism looks at how heavily we all identify with our race, religion, culture and politics, how these intertwine, and our potential actions and reactions when met with opposing views and no authoritative presence.
My 16-year-old self lost sight of watching a play objectively, or the fact that the young people were merely acting, and I no longer attended school. But my 16-year-old self, shouted out at injustice; laughed at how familiar the characters were; and was devastated at what my older self can now articulate as straight up racism! And how loaded and oppressed and manipulated our response to it is.
It’s been a longtime since a production has captivated me like this – and I think it is because of how familiar the setting was; the impact of social media on our self esteem and as a tool to further bully; and because of being an aunt and older cousin to young people who potentially face this pressure daily! I also felt heavily involved because the play is loaded with our current political state. Adding to the separation and hierarchy in the classroom, despite an age of over-flowing knowledge of content that is unfiltered for our young.
Acting (see above)
Directed by Suzann Mclean
Set by Emma Wee
Catch Extremism at Theatre Peckham NOW! Ends 23rd November.
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
I was fortunate to grab a ticket to see this fantastic two hander adapted for the stage by Gbolahan Obsisesan.
Knowing nothing at all about the story beforehand (just how I like it) I was blown away at how seamlessly David Alade and Valentine Olukoga took us all on, in and through a journey of the ‘ride or die’, ‘loyal to the end’ relationship that is brotherhood.
Now – I’m a sister to four brothers (the same number of brothers in The Fishermen) and from an external perspective I have first hand experience of this thing we’ll coin as Bro-mance.
I think it’s also important to mention that two of my brothers are 13 months apart – and although not twins they most definitely operate as a unit.
The similarities between my actual brothers and Ben and Obemebe – the two characters in The Fishermen - were uncanny and sent a shiver down my spine. Unlike the stereotype of twins and them being similar, my two brothers are very different from each other, on opposite ends of the spectrum almost, but in times of need they are ONE.
The characterization by David playing Ben and Valentine playing Obembe were identical to what I, as a sister have grown to accept as a strong bond that no one else can penetrate.
Even physically – these two look nothing a like. But in a supernatural way I think this is the universes intention. As your physicality also adds to your unique perspective and therefore what one misses the other picks up on.
Where one is scared the other is bold. Where one is sociable the other is book smart. The ultimate team!
Set in a small town in Nigeria, we first meet the two brothers when Obembe visits Ben in prison through a familiar tribal song. Their use of the small space at the Trafalgar studios added to the story’s intensity and intimacy – and found the exploration of trailing through metal poles that divided the set in half and hiding in passages in between the audience seats epic.
David and Valentine play multiple characters including their mother, father, older two brothers and the local mad man by the river. And their clarity and talent of accents, tone, and physical postures allowed you to follow without question – true story telling!
The set up of their mother in particular added humor and warmth - in what actually turns out to be a horror tale about separation, killing and curses.
Catch the Fishermen by New Perspectives at Trafalgar Studios until 12thOctober
Chiaroscuro by Jackie Kay
If representation is your thing this is definitely the play to see! Not only because of its inclusion of non-white, gay women but also because it challenges the style in which theatre is often presented.
In its gig like format we meet four very different women that tussle with their identity, and how their respective cultures and his (her)story contributes to their lives in England. Introducing their names and how they were named through song, Chiaroscuro unifies these four women through music. Not only are we treated to song, we are also treated to intervals of live music, with an original music score that underlines each of the characters journey – and this feature ultimately sets this play in a league of its own .
#shoutout Shiloh Coke
Chiaroscuro: (noun) the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.
With the meaning defined - this play definitely shades light... [shades light… Light and Shade…]
… on the challenges of sexuality.
Written in 1986 by Jackie Kay the conversations surrounding homosexuality then doesn’t seem to have shifted much now in 2019, and therefore enlightened me further about the pain that is still endured by being gay. The antagonist, or homophobic character Yomi (played by Gloria Onitiri) presented a strong counter argument to why she didn’t feel a gay relationship was a natural relationship… and as hard as it was to sit through, Gloria does an amazing job of presenting harsh unconventional views that was needed to ignite debate.
The story itself centres on the relationship between Beth (played by Shiloh Coke) and Opal (played by Anoushka Lucas) and I thoroughly enjoyed the awkwardness and intricacies that surround fancying someone. What I also found highly interesting was Opals struggle with mental illness and loved how both the lights, sound and live music complimented the fractioned thoughts and voices that this character experienced.
Opals battle did cause me to question what made Beth stay… and whether relationships that are persecuted by others fight harder to stay together.
Coincidently I watched this video a few days before…
Ending in vibrant costume - singing as well as playing their instruments - the quartet end the show quite literally in full swing.
This was good. But there were so much other things going on, such as singing, playing and moving I think this was slightly compromised.
I loved this! Set in the round I thought all sides were covered by the actresses and thoroughly enjoyed the musical underscore of character journey
I did enjoy the seperate stations of instrumnets and like that the cast were on stage throughout. But thought the pulling on and off of the instruments distracting at times.
Chiaroscuro is on at the Bush Theatre until 5thOctober
The SEVEN Methods of killing Kylie Jenner by Jasmine Lee-Jones
I loved this play! And as I said on my social platforms, it’s probably the best thing I’ve seen this year.
Are you following me on instagram? Follow @sharlareviews for up to date posts.
Being a bit older than my millennial counter-parts - and definitely guilty of not Keeping up with the Kardashians, I was skeptical at first because of the title, including the killing part, but was curious about how a Killing of such an iconic white woman would/ could be justified.
It managed to not only articulate the meaning of the title but did a fabulous job at expressing my inner thoughts and feelings - offering humor as a topping. The writer, Jasmine Lee Jones, unapologetically embraces the rhythm that is Black and British – influenced probably by writers like debbie tucker-green, as well as the British grime scene.
Check out my review Poet in Da Corner that dives deep ito all things grime :)
I also enjoyed the multidimensional meanings of cyber profile names, intersectionality and using the platform of theatre to take us on a journey of understanding Cleo and Kara - the stereotypical Angry, Black Women and what has caused their pain!
Very Clear… or so I thought, especially when the Eastern European couple sat behind me commented on how inciting and educational the titled production had been to them.
I walked out gleaming, and literally Laughed Out Loud throughout. Super grateful that the Royal Court, who has consistently supported my endeavors’ to build my own platform of sharlareviews once again commissioned work around my personal politics.
See my review on SALT.
But as I sat on the tube home, deciphering how I’d articulate what I had experienced; the Evening Standard sat opposite me - opened on a review about this exact play!
Nick Curtis, their reviewer hadn’t had the same experience - and commented that the production was loud and ‘wearing ’, ‘unrooted’ and ‘a clumsy attempt to indict the audience at the end’.
It pushed me out of my own comfortable interpretation into another perspective (which is a commonality for Black Women) and made me become conscious of the moments that may have been exclusive.
His review therefore worked as an opposing/ conflicting view to mine, a perfect balance for a well-rounded review.
It reminded me of one of Cleo’s opening speeches where she describes handing in her essay on “the effects of colonialism of the black female form” and was marked down because she didn’t show “two sides of the argument”.
She comments “Two sides. To slavery! White people be wilin”
And so… I respond… with my...
Seven Methods of Killing White Patriarchal Perspectives:
1. Unrooting is not the end of a relationship but potentially the beginning.
The relationship between Cleo and Kara is clear and very rooted. The opening scene is set in Cleo’s bedroom; they share and discuss intimate details of sexual experiences, break into rhyme and repetitive DJ Khalid rhetoric throughout as well as having a natural fun vibe between them when watching -that I cannot and will not try to quantify!
2. Not just Microcosm worlds but layers to meaning.
The role-play of Twitter users in the Twitterlude scenes are not just a testament to both Tia Bannon (playing Kara) and Danielle Vitalis’ (playing Cleo) acting ability but an example of what I mentioned earlier about one thing meaning many…. “There are levels”
We watch two friends in a room actually play the cyber users - exaggerating a fake reality that is not just the Internet but is also the theatre. So to clarify they are both acting as these people as well as mocking these people... simultaneously. This point was definitely missed by our friend of the Evening Standard – and his comment about the ending which I will explore in 7) exposed this!
Pause - It is this linear (basic) way of thinking that is at fault here – and I see this way of thinking as very masculine in energy and western in logic.
3. If we forgive you, will you forgive us?
The taboo surrounding homosexuality and its place in/ outside our community Jasmine cleverly delivers with ease and class. Paying attention to the nuances surrounding marginal voices and calling out hypocrisy! Kara’s character, who is gay, avoids the distracting stereotypes that are usually associated with sexuality and I really enjoyed the strength in her comfortability. I summorise and question the hypocrisy of the linear thinker as...
If racism is a thing of the past I should get over, can you get over my past two homophobic tweets?
4. The stain of racism is called colourism!
Colourism has to be a feature. Because colourism is one of the issues hese friends haven't dealt with. Not 'unrooting' as in lack of depth (suggested by our critic) but 'unrooting' as in uprooting the shit!
Rather than just cast two actors of didn’t shades to tick a neat box, the production deals with the differences of experiences head on. We hear both sides – from being objectified to being invisible. It was a heated debate as the pain (caused by a historical agenda to divide Africans) is the ‘un-rooting’ in the friendship our critic refers to. However, knowing this - with the extra dose of what it means to be a Black woman with a white mother, I see un-rooting in friendship a necessity. It’s called honest communication and if you survive this - what is called a best friend, transforms into a sistren!
5. Idolisation is a sin, especially when you are a God-dess.
Following on from this - the idolisation of Jenner being killed is actually symbolic of Cleo’s feelings of exclusion, bullying and erasure. And I thoroughly enjoyed how Cleo transforms into upholding her own value. This tranformation is initiated by Kara, especially in her temporary absence. From Cleo trying to fight the machine, which for me didn’t just represent Twitter but the system at large, to un-programming and connecting with herself instead. The only cyber space connection being made after the tranformation is a connection with her ancestors.
The pace and volume that our critic found ‘wearing’ may have excluded him, yes – as this is fast paced, vibrant and loud! My fear of not being able to Keep up with the Kardashians were obliviated and cast onto a people who share a marginalised view to not embrace the ways, views, pace and volume of a marginalised source!
6. There's a thing we call #shoutout #payingrespect #standing on the shoulders of.
Homage to the ancestors is paid! Saartjie Bartman is the example Cleo mentions and demonstrates just how the Black body was and still is used for white profit.
Can I tie together realms and ancestors please?
Kara really embodies the evolution of spirituality over religion, sexual freedom and expression - and I also took note that her identity of being mixed race accents this liberation from convention.
The initiation of smoking not just any spliff but a ‘special’ ‘diasporic zoot’ is epic, and demonstrates once again Lee-Jones multi-faceted lateral language.
”… And the rolling paper is from none other than the motherland herself. Ordered the shit on eBay... Lukatar. She’s begging for you to partake”.
7. Glass Ceiling shattered!
At the end, the Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner breaks through a glassed wall that wasn’t put up by us (the marginalised). It plays on the heavenly highness obtained from the 'special spliff', as well as enlightmement developed from two friends reasoning. They see us. All of us... in full light. And yes - it will upset those of whom have worked hard to fit a barrier stopping non-white females to progress or see reality truly – but for me it was the perfect unapologetic punch from new age freedom fighters. To have full permission to write and direct a play from OUR perspective!
Please go and see - The Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner – By Jasmine Lee-Jones and Directed by Milli Bhatia is at the Royal Court Theatre until Saturday 27th July – click the link to book!
Note – My next review will be a Vlog as requested I promise!
Strange Fruit by Caryll Phillips
Having just finished a very exhausting theatre process – I was super excited when my mentor kindly invited me to see Strange Fruit.
The 3hour play centres around a Mother from the islands that came to London, England in the eighties to start a new life with her two young sons Alvin and Errol.
Alvin and Errol, now in their twenties are searching for their identity, and Alvin – during the first half of the play has travelled back home, as a representative for their family, at his grandfathers funeral. Errol stays behind in London and is working hard to encourage ‘his people’ to strike from work in a time of supreme racial tension.
So that’s the brief premise.
First half and Errol
I struggled with both. And I say this with the up most respect for the hard work of all involved.
Life after my performance of J’ouvert– where I had 5 days of rehearsal before having to be in my underwear, script in hand… in front of an audience, on stage - really has transformed how I assess productions! The process can be extremely brutal, and as an actor you are so vulnerable… so I totally get it!
And so as a disclaimer, having no idea of the actual process, I review this having just watched one performance and no further details.
I struggled primarily with Errol’s character, one of the main characters and the youngest brother aged 21 – the one with his hair in dreadlocks and played by Jonathan Ajayi.
Now, I’ve seen Ajayi in different productions and am a fan of his acting, this history made me really dig deep and question why I was just not warming to his character… so I sat there watching Errol, and in the days after, confronted my feelings of anger, un-comfortableness and the inner ridicule happening internally.
I watched – as Errol spoke and dealt with his mother (his only living parent) too aggressively than the cultural norm.
I watched as he got too close for comfort and at one point I feared he might strike her.
Why so much hate?
Notably, the Black females at the end of my row sniggered several times awkwardly, and whispered to each other as Errol completely overlooked, disrespected and dismissed his white girlfriend, that now stood on stage. A Strange Fruit indeed, but I enjoyed watching Tilly Steele’s (the actress that played her) interpretation of a docile, working class, eighties British girl – whose act of rebellion is to date Black.
Side note – now If I’m honest I think my focus was pulled to Errol – because he was a central character but also because the portrayal of a toxic, aggressive Black male, WITH DREADLOCKS [Check out my 10 and a half loc journey]was overbearing – and as he man handled his girlfriend and poked fun at her simple-ness I sank in my seat.
Further side note… now this family’s story is very much a piece of my own history and so the desire for it to be right is strong. Without sounding like I’m obsessed with how other people view my culture, or that I am just wanting positive representation of my heritage I will say in terms of a play (and indeed life) people are constantly shifting and changing.
Further to this – the idea of a bad, Caliban like, Black man is getting boring and not very accurate.
Without exposing too much of my family history I have experienced domestic violence more than I wish to share, but first hand. In the late eighties in particular, it was a different time from now - and I know plenty of dreadlocked, island men who would beat their women. So I’m aware of reality. However, because I know them - I also know how charming and attractive they are initially, and this certainly was not the case for Errol.
I have no idea why his girlfriend was with him, as simple as she was, she wasn’t stupid and she had the backing of many members of her community, at this time not to be. As well as any absence of fear from Errol of the reprocussions of harming a white woman. A fear that still exits in interacial relationshps today!
Also, these men that I know... the ones Errol's character attempted to reflect, have a fantastic relationship with their mother. And in general, there usually tends to be (on stage and on earth) some niceties within the most evil of humans.
Second half and Alvin
It was not just Errol but all of the characters that, I felt, didn’t go on much of a journey/ shift or change. The mother – whose life Strange Fruit actually centres around – has the most clear character journey, played by Rakie Ayola– however, I don’t think this was intentional.
The second half helped and I’m glad I stayed.
Notably - the Black women mentioned earlier were gone. I got to see the Mother, who started as what we would call a ‘heighty-tighty’ Caribbean woman, lose her height and loosen from her stush-ness to face her very dark reality.
Alvin’s return also offered some depth as he realises that London IS his home, when relatives from the island reject him.
But Errol… remains hateful. And after learning he is going to be a father changes his location but not his attitude. He continues to berate his pregnant girlfriend, despite her decision to go with him to Africa.
Ironically – the mother and girlfriend’s conversation towards the end was a beautiful snapshot of the different attitudes towards success. In a reflective reversal of attitudes expected of the time it is the older, black mother who has chosen independance to her detriment. And the younger white girlfriend who has chosen to stick with a man whose love is questionable to raise their child.
Interestingly enough, neither the director – Nancy Medina or Jonathan Ajayi are of Caribbean decent. And that outside perspective of Black Caribbean British life in the eighties sacrificed inner details, nuances and perspectives that caused me to see distinctly their Strange Fruit indeed!
Let me know what you think.
Strange Fruit at the Bush Theatre until 27thJuly