Reviews Roundup: For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy 4.6★

Garrick Theatre, London

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide… Photo: Johan Persson

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy by Ryan Calais Cameron started life at the small New Diorama Theatre (also the starting point for Operation Mincemeat) before transferring to the Royal Court in 2021 and then to the West End in  April 2023. In essence, six young Black men discuss their experiences of growing up, fathers, masculinity, knife crime, sex, and the challenges of society’s expectations. But there’s a great deal more to it, as the reviewers told us.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

Writing in The Sunday Times (5★), Dominic Maxwell called it ‘staggeringly good’ and praised the new cast saying he couldn’t ‘believe anyone could perform this with greater wit, tenderness, physicality and musicality’. He ends with more adulatory adjectives: ‘angry and mournful and sexy and serious and funny and freeing and a modern masterpiece’. In a word, Abbie Grundy for Broadway World (5★) summed it up as ‘fantastic.’ He had much more to say: ‘Pacey and poignant, Ryan Calais Cameron’s script artfully dissects issues of racism, mental health, sexual assault, and gang culture.’ He praised ‘each actor on stage giving an extraordinary performance’ and concluded that it is ‘a stunning piece of theatre – bitingly relevant, endlessly crucial, and deeply moving.’ Calling it ‘Seriously special’, Claire Allfree in The Telegraph (5★) talked about ‘this play’s startling ability to break down every identity trope it sets up.’ She continued: ‘this revival is supremely well directed by Calais Cameron…who beautifully controls the play’s melodic flow and hair-pin bend switches between humour and pathos, bravado and confession, break-out dance sequences and loose-limbed naturalism.’  Jane Edwardes on The Arts Desk (5★) was on her third visit to the show- ‘each time I’ve been struck by how the piece manages to be both raucous and touching at the same time.’ She was another critic who had nothing but praise for the new cast, saying they ‘can dance with all the dazzling discipline and unity of a well-trained chorus, but when they talk, they reveal that their attitudes and experiences are very different.’

Simon Thomson for CityAM (4★) said its ‘dynamic blend of dance and poetic language elevates what could otherwise have been a static play, weighed down by substantial ideas’ and gave credit to ‘the valuable contribution of movement director and choreographer Theophilus O Bailey’. ‘The new ensemble cast’ he observed, ‘is subtle and protean…they have ample opportunities to sing, resulting in moments of true beauty.’ He concluded with a clarion call: ‘Entertaining and enlightening, hopeful and humane, this production isn’t just For Black Boys.’

Reviews for the earlier West End run included this from Anya Ryan in The Guardian (5★) called it ‘powerful and deeply moving’ written in ‘crucial, pressing poetry.’ ‘The vibrant spirit of the play is hard to resist,’ she said.

Alice Saville writing for Time Out (4★) talked about ‘a style that’s non-linear, raw, spontaneous, and massively fun to watch’ and ended ‘This is seriously powerful theatre, the kind that feels like an event, a statement, and a party all at once.’ Sarah Crompton at Whats On Stage (4★) said ‘it adds up to a remarkable evening, its themes enlivened and illuminated by laughter and affection. It is quite something.’ Natasha Tripney in The Stage (4★) praised ‘The superb movement direction by Theophilus O Bailey makes the show as physically vigorous as it is emotionally rich.’ She said: ‘the abiding feeling is one of joy.’

Average critic rating (out of 5) 4.6★

Value rating  84 (Value rating is the Average critic rating divided by the most common Stalls/Circle ticket price. In theory this means the higher the score the better value but, because of price variations, a West End show could be excellent value if it scores above 30 while an off-West End show may need to score above 60. This rating is based on opening night prices- theatres may raise or lower prices during the run.)

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy can be seen at Garrick Theatre until 4 May 2024. Click here to buy tickets directly from the theatre

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