24 Mar Stains…. A Review
Highlighting an aspect of everyday life for many – microagressions
Last Thursday I went to the Hammersmith Lyric to watch the play ‘Stains’. It was part of the Lyric Evolution Festival which ran from March 14th to 17th with the aim of showcasing the acting and directorial talent of young people across the capital.
The play started with the two characters tussling and fighting on a sparsely lit stage. The stage, which had long strands of fabric hanging across the stage like singular strands of a spider’s web, served as both a backdrop but also as a hanger of sorts, holding up various items such as hoop earrings, an afropick comb and cocoa butter. Some of the other items on the stage, such as school reports and ties, were used by the actors to to reenact real-life examples that the play was based on.
It soon emerged that the play centred around Mtego Odemba, a young black professional, who was explaining the reasons (and eventually the catalyst) for what happened in the opening scene to his lawyer – microaggressions. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn more about some incidents he’d faced since he was a child, such as by having his name repeatedly pronounced incorrectly at school, being told to ignore pursuing certain hobbies as that’s not what black people do, or asked if he has weed or knows anyone who does – because he’s black.
This play particularly resonated with me as almost every situation that was acted on stage has happened to me at some point in my life. As a black male, it is often difficult to explain exactly what microaggressions are to people when it occurs as they either do not understand what they have done or just dismiss your concerns as ‘overreacting’. This play did an amazing job of depicting an issue many people either experience or try to explain to others in a way easily understandable to all.
Unfortunately, the play only had a two day run, but hopefully it will be picked up by another theatre. I found the last spoken scene particularly poignant,when Mtego was told that all charges would be dropped if he gave a very public apology. Food for thought indeed…
Stain was directed by Kwame Asiedu, a young up and coming director and i feel this was a great directorial debut by him.
Pictures courtesy of Andrew Maher. His website can be viewed here.