Black is the New White
by Nakkia Lui
To be honest, I was not quite sure how to process Black is the New White, finding it a little heavy handed. My companion prompted me to view it as a TV situational comedy; along the lines of 1) cute one-liner, 2) pause in script, 3) canned laughter. This was definitely the rhythm of Black is the New White, only the laughter was real.
Black is the New White plays off all the political ‘isms’ with relish: individualism, feminism, sexism, capitalism, socialism, liberalism, fascism and then throws in a little bit of community, shades of green and grey with a sprinkling of LGBTIQ, too boot! All (almost) of this politics is given a huge shaking however, and the ensuing chaos is presented through the framework of an upper middle class indigenous family.
Tony Briggs plays the successful and selfish community leader ‘Ray’ and Melodie Reynolds-Diarra plays his long-suffering wife ‘Joan’. They have two high-achieving daughters; one a lawyer and one in the fashion industry - Charlotte (Shari Sebbens) and Rose (Kylie Bracknell, Kaarljilba Kaardn), respectively. Along similar lines to a famous quote about revolution never occurring because its vanguard will always succumb to self-interest or be eliminated, through the dialogue of eldest daughter Charlotte we understand that Ray and Joan’s comfortable lifestyle was brought about by Ray's contribution to some thoughtless policy-making that dis-proportionately benefited him and not his community. The messages of Black is the New White are delivered with a big smile rather than in an earnest tone but they continually remind us that at the bottom of all injustice lies greedy self-interest.
This is a great piece of theatre to bring issues to the notice of those who may not be able to differentiate between what is just and what is the status-quo when the two terms are not inclusive, and it will cause a big giggle in those who can. Heavy-handed but amusing, the sit-com framework works well and it would make an enjoyable TV series and could probably present many more of the hypocrisies and injustices of life in a manner that can reach a wider audience.
A multi-tonal night out.
Black is the New White
Sydney Theatre Company
Hickson Road, The Rocks
Until 17 June