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Review: Dark & Lovely at Newcastle Northern Stage

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Dark & Lovely
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until 4th November 2015 then on tour

Dark and Lovely is a wonderful nugget of theatrical gold. Selina Thompson uses her own experiences and those of the community in Chapeltown, Leeds. The end result feels very personal,  honest and real.

Selina begins the show by stating “hair is just hair”. The audience is then bombarded with many examples of how hair is intrinsically coupled to ones own values. After offering everyone a drink she examines straight blonde hair. The colour of all those stars and Disney princesses. It is a simple statement but, without actually saying it, the void is presented. The media rarely features examples of beauty in other ways.

The centrepiece of the show is described as a “tumbleweave”. It is a tent-like construction covered with hair extensions. The show goes on in and around it and the audience move in a well organised promenade performance. When they are inside, it feels as if the tumbleweave is a part of Selina too.

The show is interactive. Not in a “Hello, what is your name, what do you do” stand up comic way. More in a ‘sit around on the floor and listen to tales whilst audience members makes a hair preparation whilst another invited member of the audience sorts out Selina’s hair’ sort of way. This show is far from conventional.

The science of hair and the history behind the show are used as a vehicle to start discussing the Chapeltown community and their hair. The problems of dealing with hair and expectation of society run alongside the community aspects of the hair salons.

The end product poses questions about culture. What is it like to be black, to be a woman, to be a black woman in Leeds in 2015?

Dark and Lovely is an exquisite treat. Intimate but not overly sentimental. Rich, powerful but not angry. Emotional, though provoking but not lecturing or undermining of its audience.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

On The Web:
@SelinaNThompson | #Dark&Lovely | 

Running Time: 60 minutes, no interval | Suitable for ages 7+ suitable for families (non alcoholic rum for under 18s)

Cast & creatives
Created and performed by Selina Thompson
Lighting Design by Cassie Mitchell
Produced by Emma Beverley                      
Designed by Rachel Good
Composed by BUFFALO                       
Production Managed by David Lam

Touring dates

3 – 4 November Northern Stage, Newcastle
Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RH
7.30pm | £10 (£8 conc) 

10 – 14 November     Birmingham REP
Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP
2.30pm (Thu & Sat only) and 8pm | £13 (£10 conc)
Box office: 0121 236 4455

18 – 20 November     The Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield
55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA
5pm (19th & 20th only) & 8pm | £10
Box office: 0114 249 6000

25 – 28 November     Theatre in the Mill, Bradford
Off Shearbridge Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP
7.30pm | ££8 (£6 conc) | Limited student offer: £3
Box office: 01274 233200 or email
Dark & Lovely was commissioned by East St Arts, and supported by Leeds Inspired and Arts Council England. 

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