Nickcolia King-N’Da in The Dying of a Black Man. Photograph: Marc Brenner
THE multi-talented Alfred Fagon was a boxer, poet, actor, singer and playwright. His unsettling drama, The Dying of a Black Man, premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1975 however, curiously, has by no means been produced once more till now.
Harold Pinter’s affect is obvious. It might have been fascinating to see how Jamaican-born Fagon developed as a playwright, however he died tragically younger in 1986.
The play is about in a Chelsea flat in 1973. The West Indies have triumphed in opposition to England in Check cricket and Enoch Powell is on the ascent. Shakie (Nickcolia King-N’Da), an enterprising 18-year-old, has made a small fortune promoting African chairs made in Yorkshire.
He’s visited by Jackie (Natalie Simpson), a chic 30-year-old lady with whom he fathered a daughter when he was 15, and his childhood pal Stumpie (Toyin Omari-Kinch). Jackie is proudly middle-class and works as a social employee. She decides to stick with Shakie for just a few days whereas she visits mates.
Stumpie complains of the white appropriation of black music and desires of importing African musicians to England however he wants money. He’s hoping his pal may oblige however Shakie doesn’t see the enterprise proposition as viable – “black individuals by no means get additional than pubs with their music in England”.
Over a collection of nights within the flat, the characters drink Champagne, smoke ganja, scheme, bicker and dance. The second half opens with the eponymous demise of Shakie’s father – a jazz musician discovered useless in a Manchester gutter (impressed by the jazzman Joe Harriott).
The temper darkens once we uncover that Jackie is a prisoner within the flat. Up till now she has circled across the two males, utilizing her sexuality to govern Shakie – the shift in energy dynamics is paying homage to Pinter’s The Homecoming.
The ultimate a part of Daybreak Walton’s participating manufacturing feels contrived. Jackie’s incarceration and rising hysteria lack credibility and this detracts from the shock revelation that the 2 males search to revenue from enslaving her.
Nonetheless, the forged give energetic and dedicated performances on this daring and well timed revival that may hopefully invigorate curiosity in Fagon’s work.
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