Black Slap


Nisus Plays In Association With Fringe Management and The Landor Theatre
Gilded Balloon Teviot

At the very moments when the 1964 elections are taking place and Harold Wilson is being announced as the Prime Minister in the first Labour government in over a decade, a group of actors are preparing to greet the stage in The Black and White Minstrel Show. The cast get prepped, jest, mock and chat with each other and the stagehand as they get ready. Meanwhile there is brooding and building discontentment with the selection of actors chosen to star for the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance, culminating is a clash of ego and anger.

It's a well acted play, and creates a vivid image of the lifestyle and personalities on display. It also captures the era with remarkable clarity, despite a few eyebrow raising decisions. However the ultimate result is a somewhat uneventful story. The Black Slap of the title seems incidental and, despite the '60s setting, the actors to a man are so shockingly progressive in their thinking that the question of the blackface acting is barely touched upon. In fact the only time where it seems to be even made important is in a curious moment where the black stagehand ironically dances along to the music mimicking the act from backstage.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan