Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Scottsboro Boys

Ding. An email pops up from my boss (who sits immediately to my left).

This show is ending soon and it’s just so so good. 

Definitely try and see it before it closes. Honestly, I’ve seen it twice already and I’d go and see it again.

I had seen discount tickets released through TimeOut but they had to be purchased before midnight. I'd forgotten to mention the time constrained nature of the ticket buying to my friends, so ended up missing out. I decided I wouldn’t see the show and didn’t think any more of it.

A week later, I was playing with my phone as I was struggling to sleep. I noticed that TimeOut had re-released some more tickets to the show that had to be purchased before midnight and on impulse, I bought two. It was 11.45pm.

The Scottsboro Boys depicts the story of 9 black youths in 1930’s Alabama who were falsely accused of raping two white women. They were tried and found guilty, repeatedly, all because of the colour of their skin. It is based (and extremely closely) on a true story which you can read in detail here.

This was The South when racial segregation was still in full swing.

It is a very dark subject matter, presented with a humour and lightheartedness that did not detract from the gravity of the topic. The almost entirely black male cast played all the black, the white, the male and the female characters with irony and exaggeration which drove home the absurdity of the situation: to be denied basic rights simply because of the colour of ones skin.

At times, I felt bad laughing, but that was the intent: laugh at it, but learn from it at the same time.

The cast were incredible. They sung in harmony in a large range of different styles, they danced and tap danced, they were emotive and funny and gut-wrenching and tear-inducing then BANG, they made you laugh again. The elderly (and only) white gentleman of the cast was a little underwhelming and, upon a bit of research I discovered he was the Grand Maester in Game of Thrones. I feel a bit bad saying he was a rather doddery on the stage, but thems the truth.

The set was simple - a series of metal interlocking chairs that could be shifted to suit the location; bars for jail or the court room.

Finally, the end. I had to pick my jaw up off my lap. I had a sneaking suspicion...I will say no more.

Thought provoking, ironic, difficult, funny, the production is ending next week so get yourself along to see a show on the other end of the spectrum from the likes of The Lion King and Wicked.