Blues For An Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage
National Theatre 21st of September - 5th of November
Review by Ben Quashie
Class of Deja - Kano (feat. D Double E & Ghetts)
The ensemble performance delivered by Ronke Adekoluejo, Sule Rimi, Giles Terera & Samira Wiley perfectly mimics how the trio on Class of Deja bounce off each other seamlessly. The energy on stage is constantly drawing you into the comradery between them, scattered with inside jokes, unrivaled support for each other & regular fashion hot takes, triggering a sense of FOMO by wanting to join their friendship group.
The other parrel that's present is the actors using this production to showcase why they are all clearly some of the greatest performers of our generation - the same way Kano, D Double E & Ghetts' legend status can never be challenged, especially whilst this track exists.
HOT WIND BLOWS - Tyler, The Creator (feat. Lil Wayne)
As with the majority of Tyler's discography, HOT WIND BLOWS holds immense texture and detail in the same way Frankie Bradshaw's set design has been created with a huge amount of specificity. Frankie has achieved the really difficult task of creating homes on stage that actually feel lived in. Each character has their own invisibly marked-out territories in their apartments - areas where all their important personal props seem to live as we all have in our own dwellings. Massive shout to the Assistant Stage Manager, Shaneice Brown (whose name I can't find on the NT's website...) for keeping track of all the different props making it effortless for the performers to pull off this homely effect.
The few moments in the song where the instruments drop out, resemble the theatre magic that has been injected into the set where the entire apartment building becomes see-through. While initially, these moments seem scattered throughout for effect, they really punctuate the moments in which the American Dream, the thing that all characters are relying on for their own salvation, gets exposed for its unattainable nature.
Fingertips, Pt 1 & 2 (Live/1962) - Stevie Wonder
Pearl Cleage's writing is displayed perfectly in Lynette Linton's production, bringing out the sitcom-esq nature of the play. In the first half of the play, it's entirely possible to interpret this kitchen-sink-drama as a comedy with humor flying at you at a rate reminiscent of an episode of Friends and a laugh track provided by us as the audience. This formula really gets you riding for the characters, you have their best interests at heart so when in the 2nd half you see them making the wrong decisions, it makes us empathize with the hurt they experience a lot more - the rawness, passion & urgency reminiscent of Stevie's vocals in this live performance.
WUSYANAME - Tyler, The Creator, (feat. Youngboy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign)
Famous - Kanye West
The Heart Part 4 - Kenrick Lamar
Uh Huh - Jade Bird