There are a few seats at the edges of the room, but otherwise it’s standing room only, the audience gathered around three raised platforms. My White Best Friend (And Other Letters Left Unsaid), is a week-long festival of performances curated by Rachel De-Lahay and Milli Bhatia. Every night, new letters are presented, written by people from marginalised identities, and read out, unrehearsed, for the first time, by actors.
Mini Me, by Somalia Seaton, is a jumbled, heartfelt letter from Seaton to her younger self. It explores the ways that society boxes black women in and ignores the vulnerabilities of their gender in favour of stereotyping their race.
Nathan Bryon’s Shoplifting is a letter to the security guards at a branch of M&S, humorously voiced by Nick Holder. Byron has a solid background in comedy (he’s best known for his roles in Some Girls and Benidorm) and Shoplifting sparkles with witty, slang-peppered asides that are often so funny that Holder himself can’t hold in the laughter.
The strongest piece, My White Best Friend, by De-Lahay herself, is read by Inès de Clercq, the eponymous friend. It is a deeply moving exploration of female friendship, and a heartbreaking deconstruction of the way privilege and marginalisation scaffolds even the most beloved relationships, something people of colour must negotiate daily.
The power of the letter is underscored by the fact that De Clercq comes to the text for the first time on stage, and that the raw emotion of its delivery and discovery is experienced by the whole room together.