White Noise overview: A provocative satire full of witty energy


The 1971 Stanford jail experiment uncovered how shortly odd folks can develop into monsters when their social roles enable it; abusive prison-guard dynamics emerged in simply 5 days. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s provocative, gripping new work White Noise centres on an “experiment” that stretches over 40 days, and explores one thing a lot deeper: the underrecorded legacy of slavery, and the scars it has left on right now’s Americans.

Recovering from a violent encounter with the police, struggling artist Leo (Ken Nwosu) decides that he desires his reluctantly wealthy pal Ralph (James Corrigan) to “buy” him. He thinks there’ll be a security that comes from being this white man’s property. Initially, he definitely enjoys cooking breakfast souffles for his former faculty sports activities buddy. But Ralph isn’t to be trifled with. His new powers puff out his chest, give him sadistic concepts, and win him the respect of the “White Club”.

It’s a massively implausible situation nevertheless it’s one which is smart within the wittily heightened, satirical world of White Noise, which takes fastidiously noticed human tendencies and blows them up till they’re large and monstrous, like Shrek inflating a frog and utilizing it as a balloon. Ralph isn’t simply ashamed of his straight-white-maleness, he’s terrified of it, to the purpose the place he tells baroquely elaborate anecdotes about his traumatic childhood every time his privilege is talked about. His companion Misha (Faith Omole) works by means of her personal conflicts by operating a radio present known as “Ask A Black” the place, like Leo, she exposes herself to contemporary trauma underneath the guise of therapeutic. And Leo’s companion Dawn (Helena Wilson) is a lawyer with a “white saviour” complicated that horribly dovetails together with her voracious urge for food for energy and recognition.

Director Polly Findlay’s manufacturing is full of goofy, witty energy that sparks off this unusual play. These 4 mates prefer to go capturing collectively, so Lizzie Clachan’s set design turns the entire theatre right into a buzzing neon capturing gallery when it’s not a brilliantly practical, modishly Seventies-influenced kitchen or influencer-ready bed room. Parks’s bravura monologue scenes are significantly well-staged, the characters swirling the viewers into their twisted logic from the sting of the stage, as they sit in swimming pools of golden mild.

This slick manufacturing can’t efface the truth that there’s one thing slightly off-kilter about this play’s construction, with its disproportionately lengthy and sprawling second act and its plot strands that don’t fairly come collectively. Misha and Dawn’s narrative feels distinctly secondary to Ralph and Leo’s journey, which provides Nwosu and Corrigan the possibility to ship compelling performances as they fall, sharply and fully, into their new roles.

Can folks actually change so shortly? Yes, in the event that they have been by no means what they gave the impression to be within the first place. Parks’s play is undercut with a fatalism a few culturally required wokeness that solely goes surface-deep, that’s quickly shrugged off like a heavy coat when issues get too heated. It’s grim, brilliantly perceptive, and lets nobody off the hook.

‘White Noise’ runs on the Bridge Theatre till 13 November

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