Theatre review: The Black That I Am

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A poem reflecting the complexities of contemporary black identity opens this one-woman show performed by Julene Robinson, a young Jamaican actor currently training at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in south London.

Summerhall (Venue 26)


Every choice, from music to dress sense, seems to involve negotiating your way through territory loaded with expectations and associations.

These issues are then further explored in four character monologues from a text written more than a decade ago by Karl O’Brian Williams, a Jamaican who is an academic in New York. There is a Jamaican woman in church, more interested in fine clothes than black consciousness, a young professional knocked back at a job interview, a black woman explaining her reasons for choosing to be with a white man.

While the production is uneven in places (the voice is rather indistinct in the first monologue, for example), it’s a bold effort by a dynamic young performer. However, in a field where the discourse is changing rapidly, Williams’ text is beginning to look dated. While this play touches on important subtleties in the discussion about black identity, the broad brush-strokes at times come close to being unhelpful stereotypes.

Until 27 August. Today 11:15am.