One of the most striking aspects of the play is the quality of the performances. The cast is made up of a talented group of actors who bring an impressive range and depth to their roles. They can all dance to incredible standards, one actor looked as if his movements were edited in post production, right there on the stage they were so impressive. And they all have an incredible vocal range they utilise for their frequent chasing of characters and incredible singing ballads. Each of the character’s individual stories and monologues is delivered with rawness and authenticity, and the actors display an impressive ability to convey complex emotions and experiences.
One of the most affecting performances came from Arena Jalloh, who played a young man struggling with the pressures of living in a society that is hostile to his identity. Jalloh brought a vulnerability and sensitivity to his role that was both poignant and heartbreaking. His performance was a powerful reminder of the ways in which society can marginalise and dehumanise those who do not conform to narrow and oppressive norms.
Another standout performance came from Kaine Lawrence, who played a young man grappling with the aftermath of violent childhood. Lawrence delivered a performance that was both powerful and nuanced, capturing the emotional complexity and trauma of the character’s experiences. His portrayal of a young man struggling with the life his parents left him is truly tragic.
Throughout the play, the actors explore a range of themes and issues that are deeply relevant to the experiences of black men in London. From the pressures of toxic masculinity to the effects of systemic racism and violence, the play delves into a range of topics with honesty and rawness.
One of the most compelling aspects of the play is how it contrasts between addictive comedy and its exploration of the intersection between mental health and systemic oppression. Many of the characters in the play struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, which are often the result of the trauma and violence that they have experienced.
Overall, “For Black Boys” is a deeply affecting and thought-provoking play that offers a window into the experiences and struggles of black men in London. Its performances are incredible, and its exploration of complex themes and issues is both honest and urgent. As someone who has struggled with mental health and who has grown up with many childhood friends similar to the characters in the play, the play left a lasting impact on me.
– Oscar T – Y12