Skip to main content

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy


Garrick Theatre

2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH 0330 333 4811

Garrick Theatre banner
  • Synopsis
  • Theatremonkey show opinion
  • Reader reviews
  • Performance schedule
  • Ticket prices

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS

Ends 1st June 2024.

Six men in a therapy group share their experience of being young Black males with music, movement, storytelling and verse.

First seen at the New Diorama Theatre and Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, and a hit at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in Spring 2023, this now returns for a second West End run.

(from the previous run at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, in Spring 2023). Some actors have now left the cast.

(seen at the afternoon performance on 1st April 2023)

A few years ago, the monkey had a very interesting pre-theatre chat with a gentleman in the row behind it. The man was an ex-police officer who now worked with young men on a once-notorious, now regenerated social housing estate. The man was Black, and at the time, the ongoing murders of very young Black men was spiking particularly high.

An issue the monkey feels exceptionally strongly about, it had to ask, “why”? It thought it knew the answers – poverty, deprivation, social breakdown, marginalisation and the sheer weight of evidence that the whole issue was being ignored because it conformed to stereotype. In other words, if it were young white men, there would be loud enough outcry that the whole issue would have been resolved hundreds of deaths earlier.

The reason the man gave, however, was far deeper. It was, “these boys have never been taught self-worth, self-esteem, to value themselves. As they do not value their own lives, the lives of others are assumed to have the same lack of worth. This is the root of the problem.”

For those who visit theatremonkey.com for opinions, not lectures, the monkey isn’t apologising for the lengthy introduction to this opinion, as it is very important for what it will say next: this play fills in the missing blanks in the above answer.

Seldom has the monkey entered a theatre realising just how ignorant it was of a subject within minutes of the show starting, and left feeling so much better informed. No expertise now, but at least a beginner in where to look to start to work towards a greater understanding.

Writer Ryan Calais Cameron explains why the real young Black men of this country place so little value on the mental health which comes automatically to most people. Simply, it is taboo to talk about it within their communities.

Add to that the already existing pre-conceptions that simple “possession of a black skin” is a street-search if not arrestable offence, that Black boys who gain adult height and weight at a very young age still have their child’s mind to mould and that if their head is covered by a hoodie they are a threat; the already stacked odds against being allowed to live in peace and become the people they wish and deserve to be are ridiculously, suicidally high.

This gang of six young men come together to talk about everything in their lives, a talking therapy punctuated by dance and a little music as the thoughts take them.

The list of “trigger-warnings” displayed in the foyer beforehand is long, and at the end the audience are offered the chance of 15 minutes “safe space” to process what we have heard. The monkey suggests most will find what is said is going to stay with those seeing it for life.

Nothing is off-limits, some of it is hilariously funny, some sad, infuriating, anxiety-inducing, head-shaking in agreement or disbelief.

A guy can’t get a date and we are inside his head, a young man is going home and given a “routine” police check, someone explains how they lost their virginity so early, another the meaning of a mother’s eyes.

Both regular readers know that the monkey offers very, very, few productions this special accolade, and it awards the play it here. The cast it is honoured to name in full: Mark Akintimehin, Emmanuel Akwafo, Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand, Aruna Jalloh, Kaine Lawrence.

On the simplest Anna Reid set, Cameron, movement director Theophilius O. Bailey, lighting designer Rory Beaton plus sound designer / composer Nicola T. Chang and musical director John Pfumojena allow six Black male voices to express, explore, captivate and educate in the space of two unforgettable hours.

Standing ovation.

Legacy reader reviews

Stalls E1: Unlimited legroom and comfortable seat. Facing a wall but can look to the right and see the stage. For “Black Boys” everything was in the centre so nothing missed but can't see the far right side of the stage which might be an issue for other shows. 
(Broadway John)
___________________________

Fab show, which I imagine will come back somewhere else. 

Stalls L1. Not by the wall but next to a side aisle. This means that you can lean to the right in order to see between the two heads in front, which otherwise might conspire to block the view a bit if the stage is low, as it was on my last visit (For Black Boys...).

Having said that the seats are staggered so it could be worse. It's a slightly restricted view in that you will miss anything that happens at the extreme side of the stage. Having said that, you are pretty close and it's a nice little theatre.

(On another visit I might try for N6 which is at the front of a little aisle). 
 

 

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Runs 2 hours 20 minutes approximately, including one interval.
An extra 15 minutes "chill out" time is available after the play for those wishing to stay in the auditorium.

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS

Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.

Garrick Theatre seating plan showing prices
Monday to Thursday

 

Garrick Theatre seating plan showing prices
Friday and Saturday

RUSH TICKETS: App Todaytix are offering £25 "Rush tickets," located at venue discretion, for all performances. Released for the performance on that day, first-come, first-served. Download the App from Todaytix

Back To Top