facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Les Blancs

First Published 31 March 2016, Last Updated 31 March 2016

What’s it all about?

We’re in colonial Africa, a troubled land of good intentions and bad blood. The white inhabitants of a decrepit, underfunded mission hospital try to ‘aid’ the locals, most of whom don’t want their help. They want to govern themselves and many aren’t afraid to fight and slaughter to make their point.

Everyone has their own viewpoint and their own story. As a stranger and a prodigal son enter, so begins an exploration into race, westernisation, identity and control.

Who’s in it?

The exemplary Danny Sapani pours his soul into the role of Tshembe, the intelligent, articulate former local turned politician and businessman whose return home leaves him in turmoil; his new European ways clashing with his African heart, his longing for his new family struggling against his thirst to support his people. He is at once the most collected and violently divided character on the stage.

No-one should be surprised if his name is in the awards mix this time next year.

What should I look out for?

Director Yael Farber’s atmospheric scene setting. Even as you crack the door to the Olivier Theatre, you’re struck by the evocative scent of burning in the air. Ever present on stage traditional musicians, characters lurking in the shadows and a sinewy, lurching mystical Woman – the spirit of Africa? – combine to flavour this bubbling, fiery tagine of colonial tension.

Tim Lutkin’s lighting, which bathes the set in milky moonlight and summons the scorching African sun.

In a nutshell?

Atmospherics, arguments and a stunning Danny Sapani; Les Blancs takes you deep into the heart and mind of Africa, colonialisation and identity.

What’s being said on Twitter?

GET THE FULL EXPERIENCE:

To see this content you’ll need to allow us to set some additional cookies!

Update your cookie preferences here and enable ‘social and advertising cookies’

GET THE FULL EXPERIENCE:

To see this content you’ll need to allow us to set some additional cookies!

Update your cookie preferences here and enable ‘social and advertising cookies’

Will I like it?

Les Blancs is very much a play of ideas and atmosphere. Farber creates an all-consuming world with music, scent and Lutkin’s lush lighting in which tensions are ever present and rarely far from the surface.

As Sapani’s Tshembe struggles with his own identity – is he European or African, a singular entity or the product of centuries of heritage, a family man or a man of the people? – the characters that revolve around him offer and represent their own arguments about race, colonialisation and how to move forward. Or not.

If you want a show that will beguile you with its beauty while forcing you to evaluate every side of a discussion, Les Blancs will work for you.

Les Blancs if booking at the National Theatre until 2 June. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

West End Theatres are cancelling all performances until 26 April 2020, whilst we wait for further clarity from the government. We have a list of all SOLT member venues and the current information we know here.

If your performance has been cancelled, you do not need to contact your ticket provider, you will be contacted about your tickets.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website, they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, credit note or refund.

Due to the unprecedented number of orders to be processed, you may not hear from your ticket provider before your performance is due to go ahead. We are processing in strict date order of performance so please bear with us, everyone will be contacted. We ask for your patience and understanding as the current circumstances means that it is impossible to process all tickets within our usual 14 days.

If you have booked via a ticket agent, they will also be in contact with you directly.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

If anything changes or if future performances are cancelled, you will be contacted directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider.