Yellowman ★★★★ Orange Tree Theatre | Sep 5 - Oct 8, 2022

Yellowman, the Pulitzer Prize nominated play by Dael Orlandersmith deals with the issue of colourism which is "prejudice based on skin tone mostly, but not always, from members of the same race." The title character, Eugene, is subject to expectations and discrimination because of his lighter colour, while his friend and love interest to be, Alma, is taught a lack of self-worth because of her size and darker skin tone. Both characters are trapped by this vicious hierarchy of colour: their brief idyll of childhood and the fleeting period of romantic escape to New York are ultimately extinguished by the demons of colourism and alcoholism that haunt their upbringing in South Carolina. The play is unremittingly grim and extremely moving. Aaron Anthony puts in a fine performance as Eugene, and his development from oblivious child to forlorn inheritor of his tangled history is beautifully crafted. Nadine Higgin does an equally strong job as Alma, who strives to overcome the vicious parenting to which she is subject and the discrimination that is rife in her environment. Diane Page does a deft job of directing the piece and keeps the tension at a fever pitch. Yellowman is a work that exposes the cruel reality of bigotry within an already oppressed community, and this first major revival of the play since its London premier of 2004 is a powerful and passionate production.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Ali Wright.

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