Written by Dael Orlandersmith, Directed by Indhu Rubasingham
Liverpool Everyman, 16th April to 8th May 2004

Reviewed by Darren Guy

The best play I've seen so far in the new season at the Everyman/Playhouse. This is what new theatre should be about, dealing with explosive issues that directly affect the lives of ordinary people.

Alma (Cecilia Noble) and Eugene (Kevin Harvey) are growing up in 1960s/70s South Carolina – but this play is concerned with the insanity and conflict of intra-racism between different shades of colour, rather than racist rednecks. The pair are childhood friends who become lovers by their late teens. Alma is poor, lives alone with her alcoholic mother and is dark skinned, Eugene is not so poor, and lives with his light skinned mother and dark skinned father. To both of them skin tone doesn’t matter but in a world rife with judgements and prejudice the lives around them are torn apart. The title of the play is taken from the childhood jibes leashed out at lighter coloured black children in the playgrounds of American schools by darker skinned blacks.

Noble and Harvey are the only two actors on the stage, but what a full performance they give, as they intertwine between the different characters, using effective facial expressions, voices and movement. They cover a whole age and voice range, even to the point where you have to remind yourself that there are only two actors playing all the parts.

Yellowman is a powerful and engrossing play: its one hundred minutes keeps you glued to the story development throughout. The dialogue is brilliant and uses an interesting poetic form, creating clear and vivid pictures for the audience. This style of one act plays with unchanged scenery sets the scene for a new type of theatre and a new type of talent. Even if you are not normally a theatre goer you must not miss this play.