Black Men Walking – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Writer: Testament

Director: Dawn Walton

Reviewer: James Garrington

“We walked England before the English.”

Trevor, Matthew and Richard like walking in the Peak District. Every month they meet and walk and talk. This time, although the forecast indicated that they should cancel, they press on in an attempt to fight their individual demons – until a blizzard brings them face to face with the past.

The three are Trevor (Tyrone Huggins), Matthew (Trevor Laird) and Richard (Tonderai Munyevu). Trevor is starting to have visions. Matthew is trying to hide his relationship difficulties from his friends, and Richard doesn’t know how to deal with the death of his estranged father. On the walk they meet Ayeesha (Dorcas Sebuyange), a young woman with a more down-to-earth attitude than the men, who has also taken to the hills to find some peace.

There is no doubt that the cast does a creditable job with what it is given and demonstrates some fine singing voices alongside snippets of comedy mixed in with the more serious message of the piece, which is firmly founded around racism and stereotyping encountered by the black community. The messages are given using a combination of dialogue, monologue and music but much of it seems very superficial and seldom explored properly. The characters are not fully developed – each has their own personal crisis, but even though they are constantly mentioned there is little time spent actually exploring them.

Similarly, the historical aspects of the story seem to be superficially told too. We hear about the Black Roman Emperor Septimius Severus who paid a visit to Britain, but not about the African legions whose families actually settled here. Brief mention is made of Catherine of Aragon’s trumpeter, and a man who was given the freedom of York in the 17th century, but again the story is quickly passed over. It feels as though the writer (Testament) is trying to cram too much into a one-act play. While it clearly gets the message across that multicultural Britain didn’t begin with The Windrush, for those who actually know that – and there must surely be many – and who therefore want to approach it as a piece of drama instead of a history lesson, it is lacking depth.

The objective and overall message of the piece is to be applauded and is a story worth telling. You can’t help but feel, though, that there must be better ways of telling it.

Runs until 10 February 2018 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Missing a Trick

The Reviews Hub - Central

The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

Related Articles

Back to top button