Whitewash presented by Francesca Moody Productions & Soho Theatre
What is it?
An exploration of identity and gentrification in the UK, from the perspective of a young woman with dual heritage and her white son.
What's it all about?
Mary (Rebekah Murrell) and her son Lysander (Gabriel Bisset-Smith) look, on the outside, worlds apart. But they are, in fact, mother and son. Mary, a woman with both Irish and Jamaican heritage is light skinned but still identifies as black, whereas her son Lysander is completely white. 'His Dad is from Manchester!' Mary finds herself repeating constantly, as both Mary and Lysander struggle with finding their place and feeling like they belong.
Mary, a young artist living in a council estate in Camden is struggling to make ends meet. Between holding down a job (a task made difficult by the fact she is a black woman living in the UK in the 1990s) raising her son on her own and getting time to paint and create art, Mary doesn't have much time for herself. But she pushes on through the judgmental stares and the condescending (and often racist) comments, creating a life for the both of them in their little flat on the estate.
Lysander, a now thirty-something soon to be dad spends his days trying to save the estate he grew up on, and trying to keep his mothers memory alive.
We see flash backs and flash forwards of memories of both these characters and the loss, confusion and eventual pride in both their identities and the places they have come from.
How did it make me feel?
The staging, the space and the actors were an absolute joy to watch. Their chemistry is palpable and they portray a range of characters throughout. The writing is clever and honest and Murrell and Bisset-Smith create worlds for the audience effortlessly.
The use of images projected on walls either end of the space is particularity powerful and does a lovely job and transporting the audience from the sweaty streets of Camden, to a warehouse party in Peckham, to the sun drenched beaches of Jamaica.
The relationship between Mary and Lysander is lovely, and the complexities of their individual struggles easily take a back seat when it comes to their love for one another.
This is a portrayal of a mother and son relationship that does not always get explored onstage and the the tender way in which we see these two characters work together and sometimes against one another is really special.
Where Is It Playing?
Soho Theatre's Upstairs space provides the openness needed to create the various worlds these characters inhabit.
Whitewash will pose questions about gentrification in our city, and will cause reflection about the things society does to people who are different, and the impact it has on them and those around them.
Whitewash is playing at Soho Theatre until the 27th July 2019
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