ED2015 4/5 Reviews ED2015 Theatre Reviews

Tar Baby (Desiree Burch and Platt Productions)

By | Published on Saturday 29 August 2015

Tar Baby

Setting herself up as a carnival performer – a canny move, given the history of minstrelsy – Desiree Burch takes us down a mind-bendingly long list of racial issues. In 90 minutes, the US-raised, London-based Burch tears through slavery, Facebook activism, Michelle Obama, the myth of post-raciality, Rachel Dolezal, police brutality, affirmative action, internalized racism, and how white people always want to touch black people’s hair. She incorporates a good bit of audience participation, too: we become sugar-harvesting slaves, or try our strength at carnival games. Yet Burch is so commanding, and so often hilarious – behold her audition medley of black stereotypes – that ‘Tar Baby’ feels neither overstuffed nor facile. And just wait for the monologue near the end, a galvanising tirade about black rage.

Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Rebecca Jacobson]