Digital theatre review: Typical
James R | On 10, Jun 2021
It’s been more than 20 years since Richard Blackwood got his own Channel 4 series, The Richard Blackwood Show, but this one-man show is a reminder of how much of a charismatic, talented presence he is.
Typical follows a Black man who spends the one-hour runtime unnamed. We join him through just an ordinary day in his life, from breakfast and work to going out for a night on the town. It’s a dizzying rush of statements, questions, rhetorical flourishes and rhyming wordplay – a deluge of puns and wit. It’s as much poetry as play, and Ryan Calais Cameron crafts it all with audible glee.
Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, the production is superbly adapted for filming, and Blackwood and the camera dance around each other with an irrepressible energy and kinetic precision. The minimal stage design makes it easy and absorbing to follow this man through the minutiae of his day, pausing every now and then between the judicious lighting and sound changes for him to muse on subjects such as marriage (and divorce). And, interspersing it all, are moments of microaggressions that build up an underlying note of systemic racial prejudice in the world our hero is navigating.
But it’d also a showcase for Blackwood, whose likeable charm keeps us engaged until the final moments, which he guides from comedy and frustration through to shocking drama. There’s a physicality to his performance, which paves the way for a particularly physical final tableau in a nightclub.
It’s an upsetting, powerful note on which to conclude, and poignant post-play titles find real life resonance in the events depicted – and it resonates even louder after the life bursting though the screen with every frame.
Typical is available to rent on Soho Theatre On Demand