For a Black Girl, VAULT Festival

by guest critic Ava Davies

Nicole is tired of not seeing herself onstage. Nicole is tired of people telling her that racism and sexism don’t exist. Nicole is angry and she is ready to do something about that.

Made up primarily of short vignettes, Nicole Acquah, PJ Stanley and the ensemble of This Is It Theatre pull apart the constant micro-aggressions faced everyday by black women, other women of colour, black men, white women…basically, everyone other than white men. It’s a lot, and it does feel like the company is attempting to cover too much in a relatively short amount of time. But can you really blame them? The sheer scope of topics covered is exhausting and depressing, but simultaneously they are completely vital – particularly considering that the play is drawn from Nicole’s autobiographical experiences and other verbatim responses.

It can feel discombobulating at times – the play swings from sketch satire to scenes tackling domestic abuse and police brutality, leaving the audience dazed and confused. The show as a whole would benefit from an edit, and fewer topics explored in more depth. But then again, perhaps that’s Acquah’s whole point – maybe the audience is supposed to reel at the sheer volume of oppression shown to them. However, the inclusion of a movement ensemble felt unnecessary and forced – Acquah and Stanley’s energy and commitment filled the stage easily, and the ensemble felt underused and underpowered.

Nonetheless, this is a vital and promising piece of theatre which perfectly fits into VAULT’s programming.

For a Black Girl runs through 28 January.

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