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