Mixed race identity is often described as being stuck between two worlds, a descriptor that lacks nuance. Koko Brown’s one woman show WHITE adds layers to this conversation as she guides her audience along her own journey of coming to terms with her black heritage. A show that truly recognizes the implications of privilege, WHITE is a must-see show for anyone struggling to understand their own identity. The play is not just reserved for people of colour, but also aims to target a white audience. In it, Brown questions our own comprehension of ‘blackness’, colourism, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. She creates wonderful soundscapes using only her voice and a loop station to give a performance that is not just heartfelt, but also smooth in its transitions and harmonies.
Koko Brown definitely has a way with words. Her creative use of music and poetry allow her to tackle subjects that society often shies away from. Brought up in London to a White Irish mother and Jamaican father, Brown explores the ways in which her own relationship with her identity has changed. After accidently attending a Black Lives Matter march in New York, Brown speaks of the way she came face-to-face with her legacy. It is often through others’ eyes that we come to acknowledge our own race, and Brown, through her phenomenal storytelling and use of repetition, shows us how she has been forced to pick a side.
Told through a series of songs and repeated phrases, Brown paints a picture of moments in her life that have contextualised her race. A projection of influential black people across history, marches that have taken place, and movements that have passed successfully are a nod to the constant work that is being done to correct racism. Although there are some beautiful moments with sihouttes and shadows, the constant changing of lighting proves distracting. Unfortunately, this lack of consistency sits in stark contrast against the rest of the piece.
WHITE is an honest production, and is a joy to listen to and watch. Brown mentions that she wanted to make a show that was “important” but instead “ended up making a show about me”. It is for this reason that Brown’s charismatic and skillfully constructed performance is interesting, important and intelligent.
WHITE is playing at the Pleasance until 27th August. For more information and tickets, see here.
Photo Credit: Koko Brown