The Shade Ain’t right

* * *
3 stars

This is the first play by Adiam Solomon, who has an Ethiopian background. It is an interesting take on racism. The setting is a dressing room in an American cabaret club during the Prohibition era. The main action is the interplay between 3 chorus girls of different race. Rita (Gloria Dei), who is fully black, is resentful of the discrimination she faces. Jenna is of mixed race, ambitious to succeed, but feels rejection by both whites and blacks.

Between the two girls bitterness develops as Jenna, because of her lighter skin, gains the top spot over Rita who is probably the more talented. Trying to pacify the two enemies is the naïve white girl Joanne (Abigail Smith) but she has little success in breaking down their entrenched attitudes.

Into the mix comes the opportunistic and ranting Owen (Mark Brewer), the night club boss, who has to deal with gangsters as the mob have taken over the club. Violence and the expectation that the girls will provide sexual favours are part and parcel of the chorus girls way of life.

The direction from Hazel Thomas is tight and the cast succeed in bringing out the tensions between their characters.

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