Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Fairview @ Young Vic (Play Review) Fairview @ Young Vic (Play Review)
Fairview @ Young Vic (Play Review)

In a recent interview, when asked to summarise her Pulitzer winning drama ‘Fairview’, writer Jackie Sibble Drury was very coy not to reveal the ending, only revealing that it was a family dramady ie a comedy about a black middle-class family. We likewise will not divulge the play’s ending.


The issue of race is never far from the American consciousness.  A recent survey revealed that the majority of Americans view race relations are generally bad, and many think the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality. With over 50% of Black people saying it’s unlikely that black people will ever have the same equal rights as white people.


These gloomy statistics and the destructive preconceptions of African American, in particular, the middle class is what this play forensically through searing humour seeks to expose.


The play opens to a sumptuously and tastefully decorated open plan home of the Fraser family that would outdo anything you’d see on ‘The Fresh Prince of Belair’ in its extravagance.


Here we find middle-class Fraser family preparing a family party. Beverley Fraser (Nicola Hughes) is driving herself into a frenzy as she frantically scuttles from room to room to ensure all is prepared for her mother’s birthday party.


Reduced to nothing more than a gopher and a foil for her anger is the ever dutiful husband Dayton excellently played by Rashan Stone. Gliding in with no other intent but to cause chaos and confusion is Beverley’s jealous sister Jasmine, played with effortless cruelty by NaanaAgyei-Ampadu.


Writer Drury, and director Nadia Latif ups the ante on race, by combining a hilarious expletive ladened discussion on race and commentary of the actors as they lip-sync a re-enactment of the previous scene.


Things got a bit more bewildering and racially explicit with the introduction of the brother and mothers as white bigots in grotesque and outlandish costumes a deliberate over the top commentary on the white perception of black dress and mannerisms.


It is clear that Sibble Drury deliberate intent is to challenge the majority white audience to reflect on their impulse to engage in unconscious bias and stereotyping by creating a comparison between reality and what occurring on stage, it only ends up reinforcing in many instances  the stereotypes  even more


Nadia Latif debut direction is subtle and sharply observed. She ingeniously manages to extract great comedy from Drury’s writing whilst ensuring the more controversial racial elements the production is boldly confronted.


The final controversial scene in which the daughter and model student Keisha (Donna Banya) directs the audience before making a heartfelt plea for Black people to be allowed their own space away from the gaze of white society to tell their own stories in their own way.


Many critics and audience alike have said they found this consciously divisive but highly imaginative device both unnerving but in some ways exhilarating as it helped drive home the play’s purpose in a way not previously experienced experience.


Fairview is a mixed bag of a play.  Reaching dizzy heights of theatrical brilliance in some aspects, but a mere damp squib in other. The fact the ending which elicited reactions ranging from gimmicky to tour de force is the most talked about long after the play’s ending is a testimony of the understated inventiveness of Drury’s writing. Making it well worth its accolades and well worth seeing,


Fairview, Till 18 Jan 2020, www.youngvic.org

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