• Amy Toledano

Chiaroscuro by Jackie Kay, Bush Theatre


Photo courtesy of Johan Persson

What Is It?

Four women explore the places they have come from, their histories and their namesakes and try to understand each other and their stories.


What Is It All About?

Beth (Shiloh Coke), Aisha (Preeya Kalidas), Opal (Anoushka Lucas) and Yomi (Gloria Onitiri) enter the space and take their places behind their instrument of choice. A recording studio with a set up to experience and explore those who came before them, a musical odyssey of their pasts and their futures.


A relationship blossoms between Beth and Opal, and as Opal comes to terms with the realities of her new found sexuality, so too comes her need for love, her torment over her illusive past and her lack of understanding of who she is. Cracks form in the group, as Aisha does her best to keep everyone connected, Yomi's homophobic attitudes toward the couple cause a rift.


Connected through music and light, these women find their common ground in unexpected places and open themselves up to the possibilities ahead.


How Did It Make Me Feel?

Lynette Linton brings together this story in a beautiful and explosive manner through her direction of Chiaroscuro.

The term, meaning the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting, is a clever and powerful name for this extremely empowering piece.

Shiloh Coke's breathtaking score remains haunting and delicate throughout, and builds to a powerful song of hope in the shows final moments.


The performances are exquisite. Not only are all the actors incredible musicians but their chemistry and their natural combativeness is brilliant.

Coke and Lucas have a heady and almost toxic connection that bleeds out into the piece and impacts on the other characters.

Kalidas' velvety vocals are a pleasure to witness, and crank up to eleven when the moment calls for it. Her performance as Aisha is subtle and gorgeous.

Gloria Onitiri is astounding as our antagonist Yomi. A woman with values that are dated and at times cruel, her charismatic nature is not only addictive, but is a reminder of the way in which people have been taught to think and act for their entire lives.


The company swallow Jackie Kay's writing and spit it back at the audience with a kind of enchantment that is not often seen onstage.


Anything Else?

A beautiful story of women and the light and shade that is within all of us, the complicated nature of being human.




Amy x




Chiaroscuro is playing at Bush Theatre main Theatre until the 5th October 2019.

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©2018 by Amy Toledano