• Amy Toledano

White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King

Image credit Helen Murray

What is it?

Clear Day Cosmetics comes under fire after a racist ad campaign approved by someone on the team goes viral.

What's it all about?

Priya Singh (Farzana Dua Elahe), head of Clear Day Cosmetics is scrambling to contain the fallout after a member of her company leaks an advertisement that was never meant to be seen by the public. As the view count continues to rise, this team of women start to uncover truths about each other that had once been ignored, and tensions bubble to breaking point.

Covering many different regions and countries in the Asian market, Priya and Sunny (Katie Leung), who is Priya's right hand woman in the office, begin to understand the differing viewpoints of people from different parts of Asia. The racism featured in the advert, while incredibly offensive to the likes of both Priya and Sunny, is actually not offensive at all to Soo-Jin (Minhee Yeo) and Xiao (Momo Yeung), both finding the advert hilarious.

As the informal, teamwork focused, start-up atmosphere begins to evaporate, so too does the cool of the entire team, and this once successful business begins to crumble at the whim of their very public campaign.

How did it make me feel?

This show is exciting and very funny. The performances are fantastic, and the story is layered and interesting. The stakes are high from the get go, and the fabulous set builds the tension immediately. The ensemble are fiery and the dialogue is quick and clever.

Each actor stands out in their own way, and the characters all bring their own baggage to the drama of the piece, and this adds even more zeal.

King's writing lifts right of the page, as the underlying message of the piece becomes abundantly clear by the end of the show. Its fluidity also shines as each scene transitions from the other in many creative ways. Discussing the issues surrounding beauty products and the marketing strategies that actively look to exploit people's faults, Clear Day finds ways to encourage women to buy their White Pearl whitening cream, without shame but instead with pressure to live up to a particular standard of beauty. The blatant nature of their board meetings shines a light on how obvious these tactics are, and the way in which society still feeds into these ideals.

Lighting and sound design by Natasha Chivers and Nicola Chang also play a huge role in creating the almost sterile nature of this "fun-loving" office, and paired with the video design by Ian William Galloway, brings to fruition a world that is not only rich in the traditional corporate climate, but also comments on the power that social media and the public opinion has over so many people and companies today.

Where Is It Playing?

The Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Downstairs is the space that provides both an intimate and spacious experience for this show.

Anything Else?

White Pearl is very unique to anything that is currently running at the moment. It's discussion around beauty standards in the eastern market compared to the western one is complex and yet, still, incredibly similar. The final moments of the show, bring a strange sort of community to these women who are all just fighting to have a place in all of the mayhem, and has a powerful affect on the overall tone of the show.

Amy x

White Pearl is playing at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until the 15th June 2019.

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