Typical ★★★★ Soho Theatre and Nouveau Riche (online) | From February 24, 2021


Ryan Calais Cameron's Typical is a searing indictment of systemic racism in British society and the police force in particular. Although the real Christopher Alder, whose story is told here, died some twenty years ago, one is made to fear that little has significantly changed in the interim. The issues here are not unfamiliar but they are expressed with great poignancy. Director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour's visually spare but gripping production introduces us to a happy-go-lucky protagonist whom we follow on his final day prior to his death in police custody. Yet before the situation becomes tragic, Cameron's lyrical language is not irredeemably bleak. In amusing moments Alder ponders why “noses run and feet smell.” Still, around the jokey, charismatic man at the start, who admits that “words have a way with him rather than him having a way with words” the tension grows. Things begin to go awry after he flirts with a girl and gets attacked by some louts. Moving to hospital then a police cell, Richard Blackwood is alone on stage and we feel the full force of the physical and mental violence; everything progressively worsens and the heartbreaking finale is superbly acted. As Alder, Blackwood's phenomenal performance grips throughout. It all ends tragically but it is the amazing physicality of Blackwood's work which kept us glued to the screen. Closing the play with the projection of names of some of the people who have died in similar circumstances is incredibly moving.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Franklyn Rogers.

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