Queens of Sheba (Soho)
Soho’s new season kicks off with swagger and style and real emotion as Nouveau Riche’s show returns. It's inspired by the 2015 DSTRKT nightclub incident in which some women were turned away at the door for being “too black.” Nouveau Riche are turning into genuine hit-makers, with their latest show For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy transferring to the Royal Court in late March. Whet your appetite with this piece which uses song, movement and spoken word to examine misogynoir-- a term used to describe how black women experience a double whammy of prejudice based on race and gender—and which does it with a gleeful sense of fun as well as honesty and sorrow.
Two Billion Beats (Orange Tree)
First glimpsed in embryonic form as part of the Orange Tree’s Inside/Outside livestreams in 2021, which led to a full-length commission for the main stage, Sonali Bhattacharyya’s play about two sisters sounds absolutely delicious. Asha is 17 years old and a determined rebel who can see the injustice and inequality all around her. She looks to past radicals to show her how to navigate the future. But are they still relevant? Her younger sister Bettina just wants to keep her head down and get through the school day without being bullied. But maybe together they can reset the rules and come up with a newer, fairer world?
Never Not Once (The Park)
What happens when the past comes back to haunt the present? That’s the subject of Carey Crim’s play, first produced in the US in 2018. It follows Eleanor, whose boyfriend thinks he is helping when he hires a private investigator to find out about the father that Eleanor has never known, not even his name. But once the truth and past trauma is revealed it cannot be buried again. Crim’s meaty play got some very good reviews on its US premiere and was praised for transcending issue drama in its study of who we are, and whether knowing where we come from impacts on our identity.
Cover image from Queens of Sheba.