Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Bite Your Tongue review at Hackney Showroom, London – ‘raw, angry and insightful’

The TYPT production of Bite Your Tongue at Hackney Showroom, London The TYPT production of Bite Your Tongue at Hackney Showroom, London
by -

This raw, angry and powerful show by Talawa Theatre Company’s 2017 TYPT cohort – its flagship programme for theatremakers aged 18 to 25 – is a manifesto made for the stage.

Starting out as a series of loose vignettes, from parables to everyday micro-aggressions, Bite Your Tongue uses poetry, gorgeous a cappella songs and dramatic sketches to examine movements such as Black Lives Matter and the sharp socio-political divisions of state housing policies in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The energetic ensemble of 10, armed with a dozen empty cardboard boxes on an empty stage, pack an arsenal of ideas into a brief hour. Their insights move from unsophisticated soapboxing to a rich, complex and often very funny critique of the co-option of activist movements by commercial forces, and the policing of black bodies not just in physical spaces but virtual ones – and not just by white supremacists or an ignorant majority, but within the communities and safe spaces of home.

The versatile cardboard boxes are worn by the actors over their heads. They light up, a potent metaphor for phone and computer screens, then slowly pile up to form an imposing but unstable, Jenga-esque tower looming over the cast, as the activist protagonists fight, and often fail, to stay united. Through the dissent, the frustration and their failures, a flicker of fierce hope remains – they never stay silent.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
A raw, angry, and insightful, if episodic, show about blackness in Britain