Richard Blackwood made his name in the late 90s, first as a presenter on MTV Select, then later with a self-titled show on Channel 4. He survived misplaced comparisons as ‘the British Eddie Murphy’ and a fleeting career as a recording artist. Blackwood has since re-invented himself as a highly polished screen and stage actor. Stints on Hollyoaks and Eastenders proved his credentials on TV, while a memorable run in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre marked his West End debut. He now takes on this socially-charged monologue that has already gathered rave notices at the Edinburgh Fringe and excellent Soho Theatre.
The character Blackwood plays has no name initially, but, as we learn more about a chatty and immensely likeable man, a strong narrative soon unfolds, based on true events. This guy is comfortably settling into mid-youth; late thirties, ex-army with two children from a previous relationship. He fancies a night out on the town (remember those?) and rings round his mates. A range of half-baked excuses leave him riding solo for the evening. Hitting a local nightspot he captures the attention of a girl on the dancefloor. They gently flirt with each other, but the liaison has not escaped the attention of other clubbers. Events escalate as the evening ultimately ends in tragedy. Sadly, this proves typical of the climate in which we live; an all too familiar scenario played not just in this country, but probably every nation across the globe.
Ryan Calais Cameron creates a rhythmic, rhyming script that quickly resonates with the audience, whilst Blackwood’s engaging persona is ever present and demands you care about him. Although the tenor of the story is disturbing, the tale is ultimately unsurprising, as one can easily predict the outcome. The final frames reveal the play’s inspiration: Christopher Ibikunle Alder 1960-1998, and they then populate the closing titles with harrowing reminders of others who have lost their lives. A story of racial injustice based on true events carries a much bigger punch than any fictional counterpart; but more worrying is the repetition of circumstance. Nobody leads a perfect life, but those in power need to recognise a pattern of racist behaviour; and those on the receiving end must be reassured that something is being done to make change. Sadly, we live in hope rather than expectation that things will change for the better.
Written by: Ryan Calais Cameron
Directed by: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Produced by: Charlotte Campbell/Gabrielle Leadbetter/David Luff/Ryan Calais Cameron/Nouveau Riche
Typical is available to watch for £9.99 via Soho Theatre’s On Demand service. Full Details can be found via the below link.
10% of the proceeds after costs will be donated to Inc Arts Minds, a charitable fund created to support the emotional well-being of those affected by systemic and structural racism in the arts.