Apollo Theatre, London – until 7 May 2023
For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is a powerful and thought-provoking production which offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by young black men in today’s society. The exceptionally strong play tackles heavy topics such as mental health, racism and police profiling, all with a skilful blend of humour and heart that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. For Black Boys… is a must see in its limited run.
The performances from the cast, made up of Mark Akintimehin, Emmanuel Akwafo, Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand, Aruna Jalloh and Kaine Lawrence, are universally strong, with each actor bringing a unique and enticing angle to their role. Ryan Calais Cameron’s writing is equally impressive, with sharp dialogue and powerful monologues that strike you whilst watching and also stay with you long after the play has ended. What’s so effective is how the show flawlessly integrates spoken word, music, and dance to create an immersive and multifaceted experience. The whole thing is utterly seamless and flows with such a strong balance of urgency and intimacy.
The set design (Anna Reid) and lighting (Rory Beaton) add to the immersive experience, transporting the audience to the therapy room, without feeling basic; and the use of multimedia elements and striking choreography (Theophilus O. Bailey) add extra layers of depth to the production. As a whole it feels incredibly modern, relevant and powerful; a stunning representation of why new British theatre is so necessary.
The show tackles important and sometimes taboo topics surrounding mental health, masculinity, and the experiences of young Black men and it’s often incredibly moving; but what works so well is how these important social issues are balanced with humour and light. The authenticity which runs through the piece makes it feel so personal, and the audience really go through the journey with the performers.
For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is a deeply moving and important work of art that, is a must-see for those interested in social justice, mental health, and ultimately, the power of storytelling. When the ensemble come together, they create some of the most powerful theatre seen in the West End in a long time.
Reviewed on Saturday 1st April 2023
photo credit: Ali Wright