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Review: We R Not Virus - powerful exploration of Covid-19 and racism (streaming via Omnibus Theatre)

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, hate crime targeted at East and South-East Asians has tripled and We R Not Virus is a series of monologues, films and poetry responding to that.

We R Not Virus
Kirsty Rider in We R Not Virus

Over the course of an hour, you see a selection of the 10 specially commissioned pieces by East and South-East Asian artists exploring racism and prejudice within Western cultures and outside it.

The complexity and rootedness of racism are evident, often spurred by a heavy dose of ignorance and cultural stereotypes.

One piece explores the double threat facing the Chinese community in the UK: the virus, coupled with the increasing risk of being the target of verbal abuse and violence purely because of ethnicity or looks.  

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In another - an animation - we see how the virus sparks an argument between a black TV presenter and his Chinese colleague working at a TV station in China.

Previously dormant prejudices are reignited some of which stem from international politics.

Muslim stereotypes are the topic of another monologue in which a Muslim woman from South-East Asia talks candidly about her sexuality, ethnicity and headscarf choice while applying make-up. 

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The writing, creativity and performances are all superb. And while not all the creative styles captured me in the same way - I find poetry difficult to engage with - it is testament to the exceptional talent of those involved that such outstanding and probing work can be produced in a relatively short period of time.

As a collection, We R Not Virus is challenging and uncomfortable viewing but an essential watch. I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

I watch a scheduled performance on June 14 but all the monologues will be available to watch via the Omnibus Theatre's YouTube channel for two weeks from June 17. For more details see the Omnibus website.

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