Black Men Walking
- Lorna Irvine
- 9 September 2019
A play of considerable power focusing on black history and friendship
Written by rapper Andy Brooks, AKA Testament, as part of the Revolution Mix movement for Eclipse Theatre, Black Men Walking is a bold statement of intent, focusing on black people in rural England and their hidden history. Three men go hillwalking in the Peaks, ostensibly to clear their heads and escape their problems. There's the slightly pompous historian Thomas (Ben Onwukwe), cheeky tech obsessive Richard (Tonderai Munyevu) and posh doctor Matthew (Patrick Regis).
All could be stereotypes, were the script not so rich and nuanced. As the fog clears over the hills where they walk, a clearer picture emerges. There's troubled marriages; issues around fatherhood, mental health issues and coming to terms with racism in divided communities. The trio discuss the notion of 'double consciousness' of 'being black and British', with all of the attendant problems and preconceptions.
When the trio stumble upon Ayeesha (Dorcas Sebuyange) a young woman who is facing her own demons, the complexity of modern black Britain is given a working class female twist. The scene where she bonds with Matthew over old school hip hop is funny and moving, suggesting the redemptive power of music, regardless of age or background.
With soaring songs, mime and a strong physical theatre presence, the cast excel in painting a picture that is haunting, humane and ultimately charming. Dawn Walton's direction gives such disparate stories room to breathe.
Reviewed at Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Traverse, Edinburgh, Wed 18–Sat 21 Sep; Perth Theatre, Wed 25–Sat 28 Sep, and touring.