THEATRE REVIEW: Black is the New White is uproariously funny
Originally commissioned by Sydney Theatre Co and brought to Perth thanks to the Black Swan Theatre Company, Black is the New White is a blessing to behold. It manages to challenge and educate audiences on complicated themes while delivering lightning-quick comedy that will leave you in stitches the entire way through.
The story follows engaged couple Charlotte Gibson and Francis Smith (Miranda Tapsell and Tom Stokes respectively), who bring their families together for Christmas to announce their engagement. Charlotte’s family are prominent Indigenous figures who live in the shadow of the achievements of the father Ray Gibson (Tony Briggs), an activist and politician. Francis is the son of a conservative politician who does not approve of his career choices. Neither Charlotte nor Francis expect their Christmas to go well, but no one could have expected it to end this badly.
(Photos by Prudence Upton and Toni Wilkinson)
Playwright Nakkiah Lui delivered a stellar script here. The play cleverly establishes characters as seeming caricatures and quickly humanises them in ways you wouldn’t expect. Meanwhile, the razor-sharp humour will leave you squirming with discomfort at one minute to screaming with laughter the next. There were cheers and howls from the audience throughout, demonstrating how engaging this production is.
Bringing this all to life is the fabulous cast of theatre and screen veterans; it’s hard to pick stand outs when all stand out in their own right. The performers purposefully play up the ridiculousness to perfection, a fitting decision given the slapstick material. The cherry on top is Renée Mulder’s beautiful stage design that looks ready to live in.
There is so much to love about Black is the New White. It is a creative and original refreshingly approach to the racial discourse that has been inseparable from Australian culture since colonisation. It tackles these tough topics in a refreshing manner that is accessible to all with good humour and sensitivity.