Tonderai Munyevu, writer, performer, The Moors, Tara Theatre

Tonderai Munyevu, writer, performer, The Moors, Tara Theatre

Image by Tara Theatre

Daniel Nelson

Shakespeare is dead. But his theatre still stands. And two African actors talk their way onto the Globe stage and award-winning performances.

They win hearts and respect ("This man has experienced what we have only read about ... why, this man IS Othello"), breathe new life in to Shakespeare, but then they come up against Theresa May's hostile environment.

So do Sir Tom, the distinguished knight who heads the Globe theatre (remember, everything is fictional, stresses writer Tonderai Munyevu with a metaphorical wink), and the innocent Black British actor in their production of Othello who's wrongly arrested – acting while black.

Meanwhile, the chase is on. The two Africans (Munyevu and Tunji Lucas, who play all the parts in The Moors) dress as women to escape, their fellow thesps help and hinder them, and – suddenly – the play stops and the acting duo strike up a conversation with the audience at the Tara Theatre about hyphenated Britishness and racism: “My household is Somali but when I step outside I'm British,” explains a woman at the back of the 100-seat auditorium.

But we want to know how the story ends, so, equally suddenly, we are back with the play. Twists follow, in the plot and in our emotions.

It's a playful 80 minutes that gently raises issues (“it's fun, holistic and healing,” says director Arne Pohlmeier), about attitudes to migration (The Law of the Pie: there's a set amount to go round and each additional migrant means a smaller slice for the original inhabitants), about Shakespeare's three Black characters (excluding Cleopatra and, perhaps, Caliban), even about actors of African origin in Britain (“I've played five people who've been deported,” reveals Lucas).

Delightful, engaging fun.


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