What is it that defines us? Who is it that makes us? And why can’t we be honest with these people? These questions impact all of us, keep us up at night and force us to wonder how our lives would be different if we considered different answers. However, none of us can wholeheartedly be sure of the truths and our wonders, at some level, will taunt us forever.
In the Bunker Theatre’s This is Black festival, these questions and more are tackled to differing effects, beginning with Macadie Amoroso’s one woman show, Blue beneath my skin which impressively follows her journey from a confused, unsure seventeen year old girl who likes fashion, to an early twenties, slightly sadder and slightly lost, young woman who still likes fashion.
Amoroso is a mixed raced adopted girl living in a middle class, white Welsh family. This premise alone is enough to cause confusion and frustration with one’s identity, but add a father who leaves and a disharmonious sister and Amoroso’s issues magnify.
Amoroso speaks to us with an impressive flow to her words. She is using disjointed rhymes that draw parallels to her disjointed identity as she squeezes them to fit into her sentence, which is similar to the way she has been squeezed into this Welsh family, where her Mum assumes no one will notice she’s not white.
With the story telling natural and Amoroso evolving into her performance, there’s a lot to like about this play. However, there are periods of stagnation where more important messages could be preached and less predictable events occur. As well as this, there’s a sense of blame culture here, in that, Amoroso is quick to point the finger on everyone else in her life, but never takes the time to reflect on her actions and the impact she, as an individual, has on her identity.
Nevertheless, by the end Amoroso has captivated the audience and by the time lights dim, one can’t help but have an element of care towards this young and vulnerable woman. Overall, through the use of honesty and self-deprecating humour, Amoroso puts on an enjoyable show, but with the talent Amoroso has, there’s no doubt she can dig a couple of levels deeper and tell a story that is unashamedly honest.
Next up was a rehearsed reading of All the shit I can’t say to my Dad. Writer Abraham Adeyemi takes a similar approach to Amoroso in that in this one person show, the performer, Sope Dirisu discusses his thoughts and disdains towards the world, consistently pointing the finger at others rather than himself.
This performance involves effective comedy as Dirisu brings a natural element of humour and casualness to his speech, offering an impressive performance considering he had only had four hours of rehearsal.
The play leaves moments for consideration and forces the audience to consider what they can and can’t say to their dad, but similarly to Blue beneath my skin, there is more to come from this play, more depth to be discovered and the introduction of supporting roles could assist in the story feeling more rounded.
Lastly, and most importantly, what is fantastic is to see a diverse audience who bring different attitudes and approaches to the theatre scene. Too often the same stories are told for the same people, and while This is Black is a good foundation for these writers and performers, there is no doubt more to come from them all.
Blue Beneath My Skin and All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad are playing the Bunker Theatre until 25 August as part of This Is Black festival. For more information and tickets, see the Bunker website.