This week sees the online premiere of a new powerful and thought provoking play. Typical began life in 2019 in Edinburgh before transferring for a sell-out run at Soho Theatre. This specially filmed performance was shot during the pandemic at the same venue.
The one-man play is a simple and understated affair. The stage is sparse apart from a few boxes which move to change the nature of the scene. Simple props such as phones and toothbrushes are mimed and nobody else joins the stage to interact. This allows your focus to stay solely on the story being told through emotive acting.
What starts as a typical night out turns into a situation all too typical. This is very much a play of two halves - the first being comparatively lighthearted and comedic at times as we watch the build up and get to know the character as he gets ready for a night out he hopes won't be a typical one. Set in the 90s, the piece is littered with pop culture references from the decade and soundtracked with cheesy and novelty songs from the likes of Whigfield, Rednex and B*Witched - a real juxtapisition to the horror that unfolds later in the play. While the character is safe in his own home, when he steps outside, he experiences a different world full of horrors which leads to the heart of the story.
Richard Blackwood is the star of the show. The actor is known for his versatility, having tried his hand at presenting, comedy, acting in Eastenders and Hollyoaks and even releasing an album. Typical is something completely different for him. If perhaps he hasn't had the chance to prove what a capable actor he is through his past roles, this ought to do it. He keeps the audience in the palm of his hands through a captivating performance. Speaking to the viewer like a friend, we get an insight into what makes him tick - a likeable character with a complicated past but, ultimately, an innocent soul. As the nature of the situations change, so does Richard as he effortlessly moves from a care-free nature to mild concern into true fear and anguish.
The present theme of racism stems from the true story of Christopher Alder who tragically lost his life in 1998. The harrowing story is even more distressing knowing that this injustice is still happening, and even since the show premiered in 2019, the cries of "I can't breathe" have been repeated in the death of George Floyd. This is a truly necessary story to be told, especially given that it is still not in our past. It is a timely reminder of how much more needs to be done to stop racism in this world.
Written by Ryan Calais Cameron, the play features brilliant, clever and complex wordplay which often reads like poetry. The play features brilliant direction from Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, culminating in an unforgiving, unrelenting and brutal close up as the play draws to a close. Blackwood's final scene should prove once and for all what a brilliant actor he is. As a tear rolls down his face, the camera captures it beautifully in an imtimate and completely vulnerable moment which should ensure the viewer is right there with him, feeling every emotion.
Typical is difficult to watch at times while always mesmerising. What starts as a fairly fun and clever play turns into something sinister and shows just how suddenly things can change. This play tells an important story which is all too familiar given the events of the past twelve months. While the story takes place 23 years ago, sadly the issues are still ever present today. Typical.
Typical is available to view on demand from https://sohotheatreondemand.com/
Photos by Franklyn Rogers