London Hughes Superstar (it’s just nobody’s realised it) is a witty, relatable show about race, boys and superstardom. Hughes, with perfect comedic timing, talks about how she couldn’t talk to boys and how she wanted to be famous when she was younger.
Having Britney Spears as her only idol, she dreamed of becoming a white superstar. She has put a lot of thought into the show and even breaks the norms of a ‘one woman show’ by having a man on stage for majority of the time. Her co-star, Kiell Smith-Bynae, works with her to create the perfect onstage pair. They work together flawlessly keeping us, the audience, laughing to the point of tears.
This debut show follows Hughes’ career and her attempts to become famous through a series of game shows. We play 90s gameshows with her and help her ‘win’ so she can become a superstar and finally talk to boys. From Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, to Blind Date to Supermarket Sweep, Hughes and Smith-Bynae used improv and impressions to unfold Hughes’ life for us. Smith-Bynae’s impressions of the gameshow hosts was uncanny. Donning only a wig, and holding a script in hand, he supported Hughes with her jokes and became her glamourous assistant.
With each gameshow, we learn something more about Hughes. She talks of her progress from wanting to be Britney Spears, a glamorous singer, to wanting to be Will Smith, a black comedian. She talks of the racism she has faced in the industry and retells a story about how one make-up artist used cocoa powder because she couldn’t be bothered to go out and buy darker foundation. It is this kind of frankness about race that makes her show unlike others. London Hughes does not shy away from talking about race. Her funny takes on stereotyping are not only poignant but missing from the comedy circuit. The acronym BAME doesn’t just mean Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, but also (according to Hughes) ‘Blacks Aren’t Mainstream Enough’.
London Hughes Superstar interacts with its audiences and, considering some of the topics she discusses can come across as alienating, she doesn’t alienate anyone. In fact, before she leaves us she hugs all the white people in the audience to make a point.
When inviting audience members onto the stage, there is a lot that can go wrong. Hughes confidently works with the unknown factor and carries on with the storytelling.
As far as I’m concerned, London Hughes is a superstar. I expect great things in the future from Hughes and Smith-Bynae.
London Hughes Superstar played at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.