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

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

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.

A raw, angry, and insightful, if episodic, show about blackness in Britain

Production Information

Bite Your Tongue
Hackney Showroom
August 31, 2017
September 2, 2017
Press night
August 31, 2017
Chisara Agor, Kelly Roberts, Roberta Livingston
Mike Henry
Rachel Clarke
Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey
Pablo Fernandez Baz
Stage manager
Sylvia Darkwa-Ohemeng (stage manager on book)
Production manager
Samantha Nurse
Cast includes
Akuc Bol, Aminita Francis, Olivier Kitenge, Dorcas Stevens, Esme Allman, Isabel Adomakoh Young, Monica Siyanga, Nelson Ekaragha, Tre Gordon, Yazmin Belo
Running time