Review – A Matter of Race, Zakiya Theatre Company, University of Northampton Flash Festival, Hazelrigg House, Northampton, 22nd May 2017

A Matter of RaceTwo girls, same age; different upbringings in different countries but circumstances force them both to move to England. No knowledge of each other until one day fate joins them together at an interview. What do they notice about each other? Their clothes; their potential as rivals. What don’t they notice about each other? The difference of their skin colour. They recognised their own colour much earlier in their childhood, as part of growing up, as part of acquiring their own identities. These things just are – you don’t choose, you accept them. But the other’s colour only becomes apparent after life takes a turn for the difficult. A party. A shot is fired…

Zakiya TheatreAs their story develops you realise how the media report events and people, their motivations and their integrity, differently depending on their skin colour. If responsible for a crime, the white girl will get the benefit of the doubt; the black girl will get automatic assumption of guilt. But their lives run parallel; Jessica Bichardto all intents and purposes, they are virtually interchangeable. Does innocence have a chance when faced with institutionalised racism?

A simple play with a simple message that you don’t need to me to spell out here. Performed with pinpoint accuracy by Jessica Bichard and Karr Kennedy, Karr Kennedythis is a superbly well assembled, poetic piece of writing, that both actors bring to life direct from the heart. They build up beautiful speaking rhythms and patterns, speaking in unison, speaking in time, speaking in syncopation, speaking together, speaking apart. Extremely effective and, despite the harshness of the injustice it highlights, extremely enjoyable.

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