Wedding Band: A Love Hate Story in Black and White review – high-stakes passion in the segregated south

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‘It’s incorrect to hate, they say. It’s incorrect to love, too.” So says Julia, a Black American female who falls successful emotion pinch a achromatic man, Herman, erstwhile it is vulnerable to do so. Alice Childress’s play is group successful 1918 and was written successful 1962 , but it was immoderate years earlier a theatre dared to shape it amid nan civilian authorities struggle

Julia (Deborah Ayorinde) and Herman (David Walmsley) unrecorded successful segregated South Carolina wherever interracial relationships are illegal. The play opens connected an day erstwhile a wedding set is presented arsenic a committedness – a dream – of 1 time surviving arsenic man and wife.

Ayorinde and Walmsley seizure nan couple’s lived-in ardour and thing of their unspoken shame. Though nan drama’s nucleus is this emotion story, which collects dread aft Herman catches nan Spanish flu and is incapacitated successful Julia’s bed, nan women successful Julia’s Black neighbourhood are fixed centrality, too.

They correspond a societal cross-section: Fanny (Lachele Carl) is Julia’s upwardly mobile landlady; her neighbour Lula (Diveen Henry) is successful debt, pinch a boy astir to spell war; Mattie (Bethan Mary-James) is an illiterate mother who must count each nickel.

We study astir Herman’s mother and her dismay complete his narration earlier we spot her, and we are besides told that his dormant begetter was erstwhile successful thrall to “the Klan”. Meanwhile, nan Black organization are judgmental of Julia astatine a clip erstwhile nan horrors of American slavery remained fresh, wrong lived experience.

 A Love Hate Story.
Radiating warmth … Wedding Band: A Love Hate Story. Photograph: Mark Senior

This could person made for a stark drama, but nether nan guidance of Monique Touko (who precocious brought School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play to this stage) it radiates warmth and humour alongside nan dread. The southbound fulminates pinch vulnerable nationalism and angry flag-waving truthful that you consciousness nan women’s vulnerabilities.

The characters are exuberantly drawn and nan supportive female circle astir Julia remains arsenic nan crippled turns darker successful nan 2nd act, erstwhile nan play inches from realism to an expressionistic stripping down.

There is simply a sultry value to nan staging that captures nan sweaty power of this backwater but a sensuousness too. Paul Wills’ group is beautiful, designed arsenic a statement of houses made from grilled doors, which suggests nan scenery of nan heavy southbound but arsenic implies a prison-like situation which leaves characters exposed.

The action threatens to veer into melodrama erstwhile Herman’s family turns up – they could beryllium angry Tennessee Williams characters – but reins itself in. Childress was an activistic but lessons are not preached here. Racial authorities is blended into nan play and its tragedy. This is an important, affecting revival that will nary uncertainty present galore to nan powerfulness of Childress’s work.

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Source theguardian
theguardian