The writer of Fringe 2018 sell-out Queens of Sheba Ryan Calais Cameron returns with a play exploring the routine racism felt by black men in Britain. Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour and starring Richard Blackwood, Typical presents the real-life story behind Christopher Alder’s death in police custody which, sadly, seems just as relevant in today’s society. Alder becomes the victim of racially motivated physical abuse, is grossly neglected by the emergency services and brutally beaten whilst in hand-cuffs. This one-man show, developed by Nouveau Riche in association with Soho Theatre, presents a shocking reality made personal with embarrassing dad dancing and dire chat.
A minimalist stage with music and subtle prop changes signifying transitions, this production bears its full weight on Blackwood’s performance, as the sole actor – a decision that pays dividends. Blackwood’s acting captivates from the moment he arises, convincing the audience he’s in a cramped apartment, busy night club or hospital corridor. The protagonist’s demeanour, swapping between self-assured and self-conscious, is instantly relatable as he prepares for a typical night out to end a mundane week. At home, the ex-servicemen’s character is fleshed out through internal ramblings but interactions outside eventually focus his inner monologue on one topic, the colour of his skin.
Blackwood’s performance lets the protagonist’s humanity burn through the blank stage, and vitally bridges the message of life under institutionalised racism to the predominantly white audience, myself included, a message which we are inherently blind to.
Funny, frightening, but ultimately heartbreaking, Cameron’s 2019 contribution to the Fringe is a must-see. Bring tissues.
Typical is on at the Beneath, Pleasance Courtyard at 16:30 every day until Sunday 25th August (except Tuesday 13th).
Buy tickets here
Image: Jonny Birch