Presented by The State Theatre Company of South Australia
Reviewed 14 November 2019
Black Is The New White is the hilarious, thought provoking, Christmas cheer you need this holiday season. Playwright Nakkiah Lui transports audiences into the holiday home of Ray Gibson (Tony Briggs) where his daughter Charlotte (Miranda Tapsell) and fiancé Francis (Tom Stokes) have arrived before everyone else. We soon learn that the family is unaware of the engagement and that Charlotte has invited Francis’s parents to the home so that they can all spend Christmas together.
Oh, and did I mention the Gibson’s are Aboriginal and Francis is well…. very white. Well this will all be explained to you by the Narrator (Luke Carroll) who not only adds a whole other layer to the show but has you laughing so hard your sides will hurt. Be sure to watch for his facials during scenes where he is casually observing the shenanigans. It is almost like he is an elf on the shelf.
As the family starts to arrive, we are treated to a hilarious first encounter between Ray, his wife Joan (Melodie Reynolds-Diarra), Charlotte and Francis. Then comes the Gibson’s other daughter Rose (Tuuli Narkle) and her husband Sonny (Anthony Taufa). Last but not least, when they eventually find the place, is Francis’s parents Dennison Smith (Geoff Morrell) and wife Marie (not Maree) (Vanessa Downing). This star-studded cast take us on their Christmas journey of self-discovery and question what it looks like to be a wealthy Aboriginal family.
This play carries incredibly important messages and does so through the writing brilliance of Lui and the incredible casting. For so long Aboriginal history and oppression has been told through television, film and theatre through representation of death, loss and despair. Director Paige Rattray reflects in the program about the toll it takes on our Indigenous Australians to be killed night after night in productions. What a liberating experience it must be for everyone involved to be a part of such a different kind of production, that still pays great respect to the oppression Aboriginal people have faced and continue to face today whilst also exploring what Middle and Upper class looks like in respect to culture. The laughs continue right through until the end and the standing ovation was more than warranted for such a fantastic show.
With dancing and a fantastic soundtrack this really is the whole package, including the set which is just beautiful and really clever. It is a credit to all who were involved and it is a not-to-be-missed show.
Reviewed by Tara Forbes-Godfrey
Rating out of 5: 5 stars Nakkiah Lui has outdone herself, Theatre perfection
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: Until 1 Dec 2019
Tickets: $30 – $34
Bookings: via BASS or 131 246