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3 reasons ‘For Black Boys’ is a seriously joyful epic Black play.


For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy. A heavy but intriguing title for a play, in many ways. So, I invited my friend, who made 2024 ‘the year that she would start enjoying more culture again’, to the Garrick Theatre in March and we were both blown away. The day after, I bought 2 more tickets for an April showing to take my husband, who is a 45-year-old man with a lot of Black Boy Joy who is ‘not that into theatre’. I went twice and am considering going a third time before the play ends on the 1st of June. Let me tell you why!

6 black men sitting on chairs, talking to each other in group therapy.
For Black Boys

1.         It is seriously heavy.

The story depicts 6 men sharing their lived experiences with each other in group therapy. Their points of view as black men growing up in British society are both unique yet similar. An example of this is the way stereotypes are presented. A white majority society often pre-judges Black boys, and Black boys will judge each other. Ryan Calais Cameron, the play’s writer, has done an amazing job at finding the balance between describing the daily difficulties Black men come across in terms of discrimination, racism, and bias, and showing how these experiences are internalised to the point where the 6 project their own ideas of what it is to be a Black man onto each other.

The heavy topics they discuss range from childhood bullying to parental violence, sexual assault, commitment issues, rejection anxiety, police brutality, suppression of feelings and forced ideas of masculinity. From the very start, the men take you on a whirlwind of emotions that hooks you. For myself, this meant that I shed my first tears only 3 minutes in. I cry every time I see dancing on stage, and without revealing too much, those initial 3 minutes expressed so much sentiment and understanding of what we as the audience were in for. More waterworks followed throughout, both of sadness and joy, even when I saw it a second time.     

  

2.         It is joyfully funny.

The heaviness of the subjects is offset by the witty wordplay and pop culture references, the winks to the audience and a colourful imagination. This makes that you never feel weighed down as you will get safely wrapped in these men’s joy for life, storytelling, and resilience. By the end you will remember their jokes while still understanding the importance of their tales.

My friend Nisha was beaming with joy in the taxi ride home. The combination of the play’s written humour and the way the actors connect with the audience, makes you feel at ease to enjoy and embrace the journey they take you on fully. Expect to be singing, dancing, and laughing out loud in your seat!    


3.         It is epically Black.

Yes, the music, the dancing, the singing, the jokes, and the stories are unapologetically Black. Much to the enjoyment of my husband Georges, there is no trying to make the humour, references, and experiences more digestible to a diverse audience. Don’t get me wrong, the audience is very diverse and entertained by the ’90 R’nB, the British garage, Krump dancing, gospel singing, and African vs Caribbean jokes. Besides that, the men’s stories are authentic and raw, and there is no shying away from addressing what has happened and continuous to happen to them, navigating life as a Black boy in Britain.

Georges did not grow up in Britain. Even so, being born in an African family in Belgium, so many of the issues presented in the play were relatable to him. He even shared afterwards that he thought it had been important for him to be there to reinforce a strength in him. We both believe that it is important for anyone to go and see the play in all its seriously heaviness, joyful funniness, and epically blackness. 

 

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy by Ryan Calais Cameron is on show now at the Garrick Theatre in London until 1 June 2024.

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