Theatre review - For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy

The New Diorama Theatre is garnering something of a reputation for commissioning exciting and provocative theatre.

Inspired by Ntozake Shange’s seminal choreopoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Ryan Calais Cameron’s touching play – with an equally long name – articulates the hopes and fears of six young black men living in Britain today and what binds them together.

Cameron’s characters meet for group therapy, where they learn to share their suffering and support each other. A disembodied voices asks them to recount their childhood memories, their experiences of fatherhood, of love and hate.

And they do so with passion, poignancy and integrity.

In Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s high energy production – an intoxicating mix of music, physicality monologue and verse – the men circle around each other as they relate their personal stories, taking on the roles of aggressors, family and friends.

Black masculinity, feelings of inadequacy, discrimination, depression and the ever-present threat of violence in a white man’s world are explored through the characters’ diverse experiences although, notably, queer black men are not represented.

It’s a brilliant, supremely disciplined ensemble and amazing to learn that three members of this talented cast (Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand and Kaine Lawrence) are making their professional stage debuts.

Anna Reid’s evocative set – brightly coloured walls and plastic chairs – creates the sense of a lively community centre and the hidden trampoline adds a playful touch. In the second half, the men swap their attire in a symbolic show of camaraderie, which also underlines their shared pain.

For Black Boys… received a boisterously affirmative reception on press night. Afterwards, several people were clearly affected by the subject matter – the play comes with trigger warnings and a “self-care guide”. It’s a little rough and raw, but this is an extraordinary, unforgettable production.

Until November 6

Originally published by Camden New Journal.