Death of a Blackman by Alfred Fagon. Hampstead Theatre, London. To 10 July 2021****. William Russell

First seen 46 years ago Hampstead Theatre has relaunched itself with a new production of this challenging play by Alfred Fagon which has undeniably stood the test of time. It was shocking then and is shocking now but possible for different reasons as we see to young men, second generation Windrush entrepreneurs happily exploiting the white men and having learned the lessons of what was done to their forefathers are about to do it to them too. The death is of one of the men’s father, a jazzman who was celebrated but exploited and has died broke. Director Dan Walton has taken the play and given it a shake and the result is the words spill out in dazzling and troubling confusion as Shakie (Nickcolla King-N’Dal is visited by Jackie (Natalie Simpson), the 30 year old mother of his child, and his friend Stumpie (Toyin Omari-Kinch), whose scheme is to import Black music. Shakie has made his money by selling fake African goods to wealthy Britons who want some ethnic furnishing for their houses. They both treat the woman as a chattel, threatening to sell her into slavery, and are as racist as can be, the diatribes against Jews being particularly upsetting. The plot is virtually non existent, rather it is a series of confrontations with the audience drenched in Fagon’s prose. It does make one wonder just how Black lives matter to Black people. One not to miss.

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