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For a Black Girl review at Vaults, London – ‘vital and vibrant’

PJ Stanley and Nicole Acquah in For a Black Girl at Vault Festival
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Nicole Acquah’s For A Black Girl is a vital and vibrant two-hander that scrutinises racism and sexism, the very existence of which (in the UK) is called into question by a cocksure young white bloke (PJ Stanley) pontificating on a sofa.

Acquah, sitting next to him and flicking through a magazine, patiently explains why he’s wrong. It’s a scene, sadly, that seems lifted from life – one only needs to look at Afua Hirsch’s latest Guardian column to realise that a widespread white denial of racial prejudice flourishes today, on Sky News and beyond.

For a Black Girl’s mix of autobiographical and verbatim sequences proves Acquah to be a talented writer and a formidable actor with the kind of emotional dexterity that allows her to inhabit role after role – a rape victim cross-examined by a barrister, a homeless woman who’s suffered domestic abuse, a pair of black brothers stopped by the police – with engaging intensity.

While it’s sometimes a little diffuse structurally, the strength of Acquah’s presence counters any lulls in pace. Stanley is a very capable counterpart, although the complementary movement troupe of four could do with greater slickness in order to be truly effective.

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Nicole Acquah shines in a clever, mercurial show about sexism and racism