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Review of UoN Fringe: Thug by Ekdikesis Theatre at The Platform, Northampton

Thug from Ekdikesis Theatre and it's solo performer Rhianne Brown brings an uncompromising and challenging piece of theatre to the stage. Based on the Angie Thomas book The Hate U Give, it explores the treatment of black people in society, most especially the constant suggestion that they are the main culprits of crime.

This is a tough watch for someone like me, and not because of any form of guilt. Without boasting, but perhaps somehow needing to state, I have never in my life had any racist, gender or any such opinion, therefore to listen to thirty minutes of the issues of being black and those problems around it, and the white privilege issue is a challenge. It makes you uncomfortable, and sure that is the point.

For a theatre piece to generate a paragraph above is wonderful though, in so many respects, Thug challenges everyone in the room, and let us hope that it lies on the thoughts of just one person who has perpetrated any hate in any way.

Brown is a tour-de-force in this show, patrolling a set strewn with slogans on boards depicting things such as "Black boys are not a threat" and "A hairbrush is not a gun". At the opening of the play, she is Starr, who finds Khalil, a longterm friend at a club. Quickly a shooter is active at the club and he rescues her. Later, however, they are pulled over and Khalil at the hands of a suspecting police officer is restrained and dies.

Its an extremely sad story, but unfortunately, while this is a fictional account, these events continuing to happen within modern society, and this powerful tale manages to bring these sorry events to life in a stirring way.

While this show never uses video, technically it is still cleverly done, with powerful use of audio and some excellent lighting, the riot sequence is an impactful scene in itself.

There is no way that you can enjoy a show like this, it's one to admire, and regard the quality. It does its job clearly, as it is a very tough watch, and Brown throws her heart into every part of it and is really quite excellent. An emotional rollercoaster.

Performance reviewed: Saturday 24th March 2018 at The Platform, Northampton.

The UoN Fringe ran between Friday 23rd and Monday 26th March 2018.

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