The Typical Review
Star Rating: *****
Soho Theatre – Upstairs
21 Dean Street, London W13 3NE
Review Date: 25th September 2019
3rd – 28th September 2019, 14.45pm & 19.15pm (60 minutes). Tickets and information. Sold out. Returns only.
Starring: Richard Blackwood
Writer: Ryan Calais Cameron
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Presented by: Nouveau Riche in association with Soho Theatre, HOME Manchester supported by Talawa and tiata fahodzi
The hard hitting new play Typical is in many ways typical of a man’s life, a Black man’s life in particular, in so many ways – how he is perceived by society – women, white men, his peer and the authorities. Yet, at the same time the finale is anything but typical.
The play stars Richard Blackwood in, somewhat surprisingly, his first show at London’s Soho Theatre. Typical is a concise one hour, one man show that takes you through 24 hours of what seems to be a fairly ordinary day and night out that heads inexorably towards a dramatic denoument.
It’s based on the real life story of former paratrooper Christopher Alder, so if you recall his story you’ll know what happens. For those who don’t I won’t spoil it.
Richard Blackwood turns in anything but a stereotypical Richard Blackwood performance. It’s powerful, emotional and really takes you on a journey. The trademark humour and moves are there in the early acts of the play, but in the main Blackwood is playing it straight and is wholly convincing as a late 30’s guy looking forward to a night out on the town with the lads.
Making the wrong decisions can have bad consequences. Making the right one’s can still have unexpected consequences. What’s a man to do?
The build up to to the night out was interesting in highlighting men’s shifting priorities as they get older. Blackwood is undettered. He is determined in his ambition and heads out for a good night out to let his hair down and enjoy good music and dancing at a town centre night club.
Blackwood acts alone yet is highly effective in vividly creating the impression of multiple characters being on stage with him and acting out the various dramatic scenes that unfold. These included a number of tense stand offs as well as a slightly embarrassing one on the dance floor. The ex-soldier in him is tested by a group of racist lads. Will he be stereotypical and react or not allow himself to be goaded? The push and pull of growing up means decisions have to be made. The almost innocuous racism there gives no sense of the more serious form of racism and negative perceptions that certain Black men can face in society.
Typical is a tremendously moving, emotional, powerful and typically humorous performance from Blackwood that really captured the tragedy of the late Christopher Alder’s life. It’s a remarkable play from writer Ryan Calais Cameron and following it’s successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and Soho Theatre I feel it deserves a nationwide tour and return to London.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
Typical is on until 28th September 2019. I recommend getting into the theatre early as there’s a surprise on stage before the show starts!
Richard Blackwood can next be seen on stage in Jamaica v The World presented by Comedy Warehouse in London W12 on Sunday 29th September 2019.