What’s it all about?
A play within a play, a group of eager actors present an interactive, multimedia lecture about the history of Namibia from 1884 to 1915, when German colonialism led to the extermination of 80% of the Herero tribe. The first time you’ve ever heard of this genocide? You wouldn’t be alone and Jackie Sibblies Drury’s outstandingly clever piece attempts to rectify this in a unique theatrical experience. In 90 minutes expect to move from laughter to wishing you could hide underneath your seat.
As the well-meaning ensemble move from excruciatingly bad improv – think back to ‘be a tree’ GCSE drama lessons – to unexpectedly unearthing some unwanted truths far closer to home, the story becomes less about the historical facts and more about the group’s own potential capacity for inhumanity.
Who’s in it?
Ayesha Antonine confidently leads proceedings as the group’s self-appointed Artistic Director. At first irritatingly pushy and rocking levels of passive aggression usually reserved for Post-it notes on communal fridges, her passion to tell the unheard stories of her ancestors is palpable. Kingsley Ben-Adir is brilliant as the actor repulsed by the political tiptoeing taking place, while Kirsty Oswald is delightfully offensive as a ditsy and overzealous method actress.
What should I look out for?
Katie Mitchell-style theatrical tricks, audience members trying to avoid actors’ eyes as they tell racist jokes designed to shock and sicken, spontaneous musical interludes, Oswald pretending to be everything from a dead cat to a German soldier and six very big egos.
The cast manages to so successfully replicate an improvisation that if I hadn’t been handed a script on my way in, I’d find it hard to believe it wasn’t actually spontaneous. Drury’s clever construction also concludes with one of the most effective and uncomfortable endings I’ve ever witnessed.
In a nutshell?
Audiences will be left reeling after Jackie Sibblies Drury’s provocative 90 minute theatrical experiment that throws convention, and your expectations along with it, out the window.
What’s being said on Twitter?
@susiewokoma I suggest you book a ticket 2 see #WeAreProud at @bushtheatre otherwise I don’t think we can be friends. Theatrically smacked in the face.????
@louise__ryder .@bushtheatre hits the mark yet again #WeAreProud is one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I’ve seen, possibly ever.
Will I like it?
If you like your theatre with a proscenium arch and a programme that will give you a good idea of exactly what is going to take, then this may not be for you. Drury’s play fast becomes less about what happened and more about the ensemble’s methods and own experiences, so anyone expecting a comprehensive history may be unsatisfied. But for me, the cast’s exceptional delivery of a complicated and unquestionably courageous script under Gbolahan Obisesan’s chaotic and inventive direction was enough to keep me thinking about the play hours after I’d left the theatre.