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Les Blancs Review

Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansbury, adapted by Robert Nemiroff

National Theatre at Home 2nd-9th of July

Review by Khai Shaw

Black man in a White World - Michael Kiwanuka

Tshembe Matoseh (played by Danny Sapani) is, in my opinion, the human embodiment of Michael Kiwanuka's breakout song. Tshembe is multi-faceted, intelligent and strong... and yet despite all of this we see him time and time again called to be the spokesperson and the bearer of his peoples pain and tragedy. We see a man who has had to negotiate and traverse a white world all his life and, even upon returning home to grieve for his father, is still forced into having to either explain his people's sorrow or to take up arms and defend it. Kiwanuka's looping guitar and simple claps remind me of a campfire song and story, something passed down from generation to generation.

Only 1 (Interlude) - Metro Boomin feat Travis Scott

Metro Boomin's sparse production and Travis Scott's haunting vocals on this song are an echo of the dusty, eerie and other-worldly setting we find ourselves placed in during this production. Yael Farber, Soutra Gilmour and Tim Lutkin have done a beautiful job creating a distinctive atmosphere , one that feels brimming with uncertainty and deadly anticipation. Just as Scott laments a love lost in the track, so too do we feel a sense of loss within the setting, almost as if it had been stolen away from its original inhabitants...

White Privilege II - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat Jamila Woods

One of the most interesting journeys within the play comes in the form of Charlie Morris (played by Elliot Cowan). We see a man who, although he may not believe it himself at first, is utterly steeped in his own privilege. The nuances of his conversations with Tshembe show that he is naive, not only about the true nature of the mission but also of the multi-faceted nature of the African people. Yet, as he learns more and (more importantly) begins to question his own stance and beliefs we see real change starting to happen before our very own eyes. Macklemore's own journey within this song perfectly encapsulates Morris' journey, from denial of his own privilege to acceptance to questioning what it means for him and those adversely affected by it.

War/No More Trouble - Bob Marley & The Wailers

For me, the beauty and tragedy of this play is perfectly captured by Bob Marley in this song. We are tormented by deaths on both sides. We are furious at the treatment both seen and unseen of the African people. And yet we know that, as much as characters like Tshembe, Morris, and Madame Neilsen (played by Sian Phillips) would hope to avoid it... until there is equality and basic human rights for all the fight must continue. Whether that be with violence or not, the war on inequality will rage until its wrongs are set right.


Honourable Mentions

Get up, Stand up - The Wailers

Fight for your right - J hus

Mad - Solange feat Lil Wayne

Redemption Song - Bob Marley & The Wailers


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