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Posts Tagged ‘Shiloe Coke’

It’s title is a term for an artist’s treatment of light and shade and it’s a 1986 play by the current Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay about four women of colour and their search for identity. The Bush Theatre’s new artistic director Lynette Linton has turned it into a piece of gig theatre, with music by Shiloe Coke, who also plays Beth.

The four women are recording songs in a studio. Aisha is the singer and her heritage is Punjabi, the other three play guitar, keyboards and drums between them. Beth is gay and her family are from the Caribbean, Yomi is a single mum and her family are Nigerian and Opal is mixed race and coming to terms with her sexuality. Between songs they tell their individual stories using a significant object from their lives as a starting point, even a talisman. They form relationships and friendships, but there’s also tension.

I really liked Shiloe Coke’s songs and she played Beth beautifully, with superb timing and great passion. Preeya Kalidas’s Aisha also acts as a narrator or anchor and she sings the songs very well. Gloria Onitiri plays the spiky, brittle Yomi with just the right amount of edge and when she reveals her homophobia as Beth & Opal’s relationship develops it shocks. Anoushka Lucas’ performance as Opal makes you feel that she has the longest and most transformative journey. Fine performances all round.

I did feel the narrative lacked depth, of both characterisation and story, but it’s difficult to do that in 85 minutes including songs. Instead, It leaves you with thoughts and impressions and an idea of the roads to be travelled to uncover and establish identity.

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