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Walk Like A Black Man
Published on Thursday, 24 May 2012

4 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Temple (venue website)
14-17 May, 5:45pm-6:45pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 Warning: Contains strong language.
 2-for-1 tickets for Friends of the Fringe members.

This one-man play is a smart show about race and racial identity. Actor and writer Rafiq Richard has created a moving, funny monologue about a young mixed race man, the child of a Caribbean father and an Indian mother (although actually, he says he dislikes the term ‘mixed race’, as it’s too vague and could mean anything).

In any case, his youthful character Rafiq wants to be black – wants to be ‘a brother’ – but because of his heritage, believes he doesn’t cut it as black man. He’s teased for being ‘paki’, but points out that’s hardly fair, as some of the ‘black’ kids in his school have white mums. ‘Everyone forgets about the white mums’, he complains.

Richard’s performance is spot-on as the frustrated naïve teen, and his physicality is just fascinating to watch. We all know about the dangers of stereotyping, but we also all know that people from different cultures do, often, look different. Richard’s face looks black one moment and Indian the next.

This play, though very obviously about race, is also about masculinity: about that particular kind of black masculinity that Rafiq craves. He wants to be like Jay Z, he says, rapping about bitches. Or, he thinks at one point, he could he be a Muslim instead, and get respect he craves that way – but he fears Islam has too many rules he couldn’t keep.

This is a clever, well-performed thought-provoking piece. It has some genuinely very funny jokes, and I really enjoyed the small amount of audience interaction at the end of the show, where Richard offered a workshop session to anyone who he’d left feeling racially confused.

Rafiq, the character, may see his heritage as a disadvantage. But for Richard, the performer, it’s a completely positive thing – which has helped him create a personal and clever show about who we all are.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.