'Fairview' by Jackie Sibblies Drury
Review by Ben Quashie
I say a little prayer for you - Aretha Franklin
Nicola Hughes is a driving force throughout the 1st act but is only possible with the support of her costars the same way Aretha is supported by her choir. The recorded version of the song would be empty if Aretha did not trust her choir to tell the story. It’s a team effort that builds a well rounded family dynamic of well developed black characters that British theatre is dying for. Not to mention the familiarities of the family, in the same way I bet the majority of you can sing the chorus of this song by heart. Despite the otherness of the architecture & accents being American, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Donna Banya, Nicola Hughes & Rhashan Stone make you feel like one of the family... safe at home.
Stop what you’re doing (James Blake Remix) - Untold
Come Act 2, as a person of colour, this show will make you feel uncomfortable and this is the only song I can think of that that has the same anxiety building feeling.
The track builds as does the wildness of the voice over and the comments they make. It feels like being in a theoretical war zone, dodging stray micro-aggressions and every now and again a full blown racist statement will get lobbed in in the same way the synth is fired throughout the track along with a random explosion of bass.
Jackie has written the show to be difficult to watch and Nadia Latif’s direction fully saw that vision through.
Black - Dave
The 3rd Act of Nadia’s production is easily the most frustrating thing I’ve seen on stage (in a good way). It’s needed but doesn’t make it any easier. Every single negative stereotype Dave lists in this song is exploited on stage only to be challenged by one voice. Entirely tearing down the blissful image Jackie opens the play with.
There’s a moment at the end of the play that challenges the consciousness of the audience. I won’t spoil it but it’s the only time I’ve ever got emotional over an entertainment product in my life. The passionate reaction is reflected in the same way Dave delivers this song... raw power born from pain.
Father Stretch - Sunday Service Choir
This was the first thing I listened to when leaving the theatre so it doesn’t directly correlate with the show but definitely with the audience experience.
I needed to reconnect with something larger and more powerful than myself. I’m not Christian but there’s a sense of comfort found in big band gospel music.
As a kind of disclaimer, If you are Black and planning on seeing the show, I would recommend two things:
1. Make sure you’re in a good headspace beforehand
2. Try and go with another Black friend to discuss the experience post show. Also to diffuse the sense of isolation.
Think - Aretha Franklin
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing (Homecoming Live) - Beyoncé
Ultralight Beam - Sunday Service Choir
Roll Jordan Roll (ft. Chiwetel Ejiofor) - Topsy Chapman