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Review: My White Best Friend (And Other Letters Left Unsaid), Bunker Theatre

My White Best Friend (And Other Letters Left Unsaid) is clever, fresh, provocative and important theatre.

My White Best Friend - Inès de Clercq - Credit The Bunker 1
My White Best Friend - Inès de Clercq. Photo: The Bunker

There is a clubby feel to the Bunker Theatre.  A DJ in the corner, people standing in groups talking, drinking, laughing - there is no seating.

Projected on the wall is a countdown until the start, the DJ occasionally interrupting the music to make announcements about the bar and a reminder of how much time is left.

Curated by Rachel De-Lahay and Milli Bhatia, the performance will be three letters, each night opening with My White Best Friend written by De-Lahay and read by Inés De Clercq. The letters that follow, will be new each night and read by different performers each night.

Airing unspoken subjects

As the title suggests the theme is about giving voice to those things that are left unsaid.

The night I'm there, the pieces which follow My White Best Friend are Stef's Letter To Jammz/Jammz Response by Grime DJ Jammz, read by Ben Bailey Smith and Untitled written by Zia Ahmed, read by Zainab Hasan.

All three expose the realities of white privilege, casual racism and unconscious bias. The bias that blocks opportunities, harbour stereotypes, make jobs and life difficult.

Different tones and angles

Each has a different tone, a different angle and response.

De-Lahay's piece tells of the holes exposed in a relationship with a white best friend with De Clercq bringing a layer of awkwardness that spills into defensiveness to the performance. 

Jammz' letters, delivered with rap rhythm by Bailey Smith, tell a similar tale but of two friends from the same neighbourhood. Despite their similar backgrounds, race sets them on different paths but only one of them sees the difference.

Great ad-libbing

And Ahmed's piece is a collage of quotes, statements and stories (with a little ad-libbing by the brilliant Hasan).

There are references to current situations and people in public life and it ends with a shocking tale of trying to work as a male, brown, nanny when the public at large just see you as a child kidnapper.

There are gasps, nods and plenty of laughs from the audience throughout the performances. Letters are a clever medium, having the readers discover them along with the audience is a nice touch.

My White Best Friend (And Other Letters Left Unsaid) is clever, fresh, provocative and important theatre and I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

It's at the Bunker Theatre until March 23.

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