The Play’s the Thing

The year is young, but there are already a few things I think I’ll be following or seeing this year.

Apart from 12 Years a Slave, I’ll be looking forward to watching Belle, the story of Dido Elizabeth Bell, the mixed-race daughter of a slave who was raised by her uncle the Earl of Mansfield, who was then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and who made a landmark ruling that paved the way for the abolition of slavery. I’ll also be following the blog of UCL’s project into the British legacy of slavery, which taps a rich seam of history that we don’t often look into in this country.

I usually despair of the lack of plays that I want to see in January, then find myself whisked away by a spoil of theatre across the city from February onwards.

Last year I was gutted to miss The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic. I heard it was fantastic and I can only hope it will return one day. I did have the pleasure of seeing A Season in the Congo and have just (literally, my credit card is still steaming) bought tickets to Sizwe Banzi is Dead, which starts on 6 February:

SizweBanziisDead326

It’s 1972 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Sizwe Banzi’s passbook gives him just three days to find work. No work and he’ll be deported. That was four days ago.

So when Sizwe stumbles across a dead body with a passbook, he asks himself – does his identity card really define who he is? Could he give up his family and his name in order to survive?

I can’t wait to find out.

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