For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Garrick Theatre, London
Cast: Tobi King Bakare, Shakeel Haakim, Fela Lufadeju, Albert Magashi, Mohammed Mansaray and Posi Morankinyo 

Father figures and fashion tips. Lost loves and jollof rice. African empires and illicit sex. Good days and bad days. Six young Black men meet for group therapy, and let their hearts – and imaginations – run wild. For Black Boys is located on the threshold of joyful fantasy and brutal reality: a world of music, movement, storytelling and verse – where six men clash and connect in a desperate bid for survival.

What an incredible, beautiful, brutally raw, honest, funny and educational piece of theatre.

This play was first shown in 80-seat studio theatre in 2021, it then moved to the Royal Court in 2022. Last year it had its first West End run and now it's back in the West End at the Garrick Theatre, with a new cast.

Ryan Calais Cameron has written such a powerful play which allows us to see an intrusive and intimate look into the mental health of Black men. This script is much needed and well written. The poetry style of wording made the story more engaging and the words seem even more powerful.

As a white woman, this play is not made with me as a target audience. However, the feeling of suicide being the only way out is something I feel that many of us, including myself, can relate too. These six wonderful, insanely talented actors really do make you feel as though the stories they're telling onstage are their own experiences and feelings. My heart was broken by the end of the show; all I wanted was to reassure them that everything was going to be okay. This just shows how powerful and important this play is - and I would advise everyone to witness this, even if it's just to educate yourself on the matter.

There wasn’t one standout performer for me in this play because each and every actor stood out in their own way. Each actor was captivating and memorable to watch. Although each of their stories was different, they all come together with the topic of suicide.

The opening act was a stunning way to start the show. We see the six actors link together and performance a dance with ballet-style movements, which was beautiful to watch; both flawless and rhythmic. It then moves straight into a scene where Jet (played by Fela Lufadeju) starts to begin his story.

The staging by Anna Reid is simple but effective. For the first act, there are just six chairs in a large space. This gives off the feeling of being in a therapy room and that you're the professional asking these men to open up about what brought them to this point in their lives.

For act two, the chairs are removed which allows the actors to perform more dance routines. The dance styles are widely varied; from ballet to street. When dancing together, they really do dance as one and stay connected as if they're bonded by an invisible string. It almost feels like a metaphor that represents the power of opening up and helping each other speak out, and truly becoming a team. At times, the dance feels somehow lyrical. The music was both epic and nostalgic for me, as this was the music I was raised on, so I personally felt very connected.

The plot follows the six actors as they take turns to let the audience know about the beliefs and experiences that shaped them into the people they have become. It explores "Black masculinity", heartbreak and pain. However, on the flipside, if also explores light, laughter, youthful energy and brotherhood, which was truly wonderful to watch. It's a reminder that with all the sadness in the world, if you look hard enough there is always some sort of light.

My favourite line from the show is when Albert Magashi (who plays Sable) says “but if you can stand to wait…the moment will pass” and I will never forget that, and I will not forget this play. The world really needed to see and hear this truth.

You can book tickets to see For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy here.

Review by Sarah

**photo credit: Johan Persson**

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