If you were thinking that modern political correctness rules out jokes about, or adjacent to issues of race, then you need to see Black is the New White. It’s a hilarious exemplar (yeah, exemplar) of the way forward. Straight up – this is the funniest play I’ve EVER seen.
It’s the story of two successful families (one black, one white), made up of four couples including two long term arch enemies (one from each family) who come together for Christmas. As family Christmases are wont to do, things go askew, simmering issues begin to boil and crescendo into an all out, everyone in, knock down drag out.
There’s also an ever present narrator whose impeccably timed interjections don’t just flesh out but add yet another layer of humour to the production. It’s very clever.
The stellar cast are all recognisable faces: Logie-award winning Shari Sebbens (The Sapphires and Redfern Now), Tom Stokes (The Railway Man), Tony Briggs (co-writer of the Helpmann Award winning play The Sapphires), Miranda Tapsell (Love Child and The Sapphires), Luke Carroll (Play School presenter and Redfern Now), Vanessa Downing (former Home & Away star), Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (Redfern Now and Natural Justice), and NIDA graduate Anthony Taufa (The Golden Age – Sydney Theatre Company, An Octoroon – Queensland Theatre).
Woman of the moment, BITNW writer Nakkiah Lui, made her directorial debut with Queensland Theatre last year with the acclaimed An Octoroon. BITNW isn’t as heavy as that. It’s a rom-com, a very modern Australian one and it would make great television.
The politics of race and identity have been a popular topic of modern theatre recently. If you think you can’t sit through another agenda-laden diatribe, fear not. This is not that. Yes it makes you think, yes it informs, but the politics are inward looking not outward. More than anything, it makes you laugh.
There’s full frontal nudity, joints (ahem, herbal cigarettes) smoked on stage, a food fight and the most surprising kiss, but none of those things are the meat of this play, they’re the crumbs that fall from the delicious dish that is Black is the New White.
Hilarious. Faultless. Five stars.
Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui (via Sydney Theatre Co) is playing QPAC’s Playhouse until February 17, 2018
Tickets via queenslandtheatre.com.au or 1800 355 528