Dael Orlandersmith’s Pulitzer Prize nominated play Yellowman heads to London for its first major revival since its premiere in 2004.

Credit: Ali Wright

Yellowman follows the love story between Alma, a dark-skinned Black woman and Eugene, a lighter skinned Black man. The play explores the impact and trauma developed from the colourism faced in their Deep South African American community. The discrimination and prejudice that darker people face, and the way lighter skinned people are highly favoured, is shown throughout the performance.

We are taken on journey from the very moment Alma and Eugene meet. From the sweet childhood scenes as they play superheroes and sing songs, to their adolescence and then adulthood. We witness their relationship blossom amongst the ugly opinions of their friends and family. The pair face bigotry, misogyny, family abuse, all from a young age. 

Nadine Higgins plays Alma, who deals with verbal abuse from her mother. Eugene, played by Aaron Anthony, has a father who resents him. It is a multicharacter memory play, with Higgin and Anthony portraying various characters in Alma and Eugene’s lives. I was impressed with how the pair seamlessly transformed into friends and family members. Despite their differences and how the community viewed them, Alma and Eugene fall in love. As the story goes on, we see how Alma battles with her mother’s internalised hate, which drives her to leave South Carolina for New York City, with a college scholarship. Meanwhile, Eugene goes through generational trauma, and struggles to find direction in his life. The topics are heavy, and I applaud Higgin and Eugene for their passionate performances. 

Credit: Ali Wright

Higgin was thoroughly convincing as Alma. The speech about how Alma viewed her body was heart-breaking and left me with goosebumps. Anthony was also fantastic as Eugene, although I felt they were at their strongest when portraying childhood/teenage Eugene. Orlandersmith has brilliantly crafted this story; the dialogue is lyrical and full of emotion. Higgin and Anthony narrate separately, as monologues and the chemistry between them was palpable. My favourite line was Eugene expressing how kissing Alma felt like ‘home’. Rajiv Pattani’s choice of the lilac lighting in this scene was beautiful. With just a wooden stage and soft lighting, the direction from Diana Page felt intimate and held our full attention for the duration of the performance. 

Alcoholism indirectly and directly affected our main characters. Esther Kehinde Ajayi’s sound design cleverly embodied this, with subtle sounds of liquid being poured in the background. The second half was even more intense, with noticeable gasps from the audience. I personally felt some scenes in the final act appeared out of character for our lead – but it certainly provided a shock factor. 

With such tough themes, Yellowman is a deeply moving play, with so much raw emotion from our characters. I am thankful for this production as it shares an important message about prejudice and racial discrimination, an issue that is still evident in society today.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
YellowmanOrange Tree TheatreUntil the 8th October


{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE

Leave a Reply