Tag Archives: Ria Zmitrowicz

My White Best Friend

My White Best Friend

The Bunker

My White Best Friend

My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid)

The Bunker

Reviewed – 20th March 2019



“Using the word show seems a bit weird. It wasn’t really a show. It was an event, a sharing.”


Yesterday evening at The Bunker felt unlike any evening I’ve ever spent in a theatre, and as such, I felt it was right to write about it in a totally different way. I’ve introduced an I for starters, and so I’m going to introduce myself too. I’m a cis, pansexual, middle class white woman, aged 48. It feels essential to let you know this, as the series of evenings which Rachel De-Lahay and Millie Bhatia have curated put identity centre stage – racial identity, class identity, sexual identity and gender identity – and one of the things that last night made very clear, is that we can only view things through our own identity prism. So the old myth of the invisible critic just won’t wash.

The Bunker felt like a club last night. Buzzy. There was an excellent DJ, we were all standing, and we were offered a drink (rum and Ting, delicious) when we walked into the space. It was a young crowd and it looked and felt and sounded like London; like the London that is outside, that we journeyed through to get there. Which felt great. And made me realise how rare that is. There were knots of friends chatting, predominantly people of colour, and a sense of relaxed ownership, a comfortable knowledge – this night is for us, and about us – which I could only share from the edges. And that feeling taught me something, even before the show began. Even using the word show seems a bit weird. It wasn’t really a show. It was an event, a sharing.

Rachel De-Lahay’s idea is a simple one: different writers leave a letter to be read out loud by a specific performer. The letter is in a sealed envelope and the performer reads it live, having never read it before. The evening kicks off with a long letter that Rachel wrote to one of her best friends, Inès de Clercq, and it is Inès who reads it. The letter is honest, and funny and uncomfortable for Inès to read, as it is a reminder that no matter how much Rachel loves her, her race can’t help but play a part in their relationship. It is uncomfortable for any white person to hear, to witness, to think about, and that’s the point. The young woman standing in front of me was completely overwhelmed by tears half way through this reading, and, throughout the night, the electricity of words being spoken that are so often, too often, left unsaid, was palpable. There was a charge; the air crackled with it. Of urgency, of energy, of presence.

The next letter was written as a piece of spoken word poetry. Fantastic writing by Jammz; it also dealt with race in friendship, and Ben Bailey Smith (‘I’m mixed race, so I’m my own white best friend’) was direct and charming, and did the words justice. The final, and longest letter of the evening was written by Zia Ahmed and read by Zainab Hasan. This took a different form again, with Zainab reading out a selection of quotes – from Zia himself, from the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, from popular Muslim comedians – before reading Zia’s unbearably painful story of continual racist profiling which led him finally to stop his job as a nanny.

It went against the grain to give this show a star rating, as the words and stories of these artists and performers don’t need my critical validation, but they do need to be listened to. So consider my five stars a way of saying that this is essential theatre. Get yourself a ticket and open your ears.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography courtesy The Bunker


My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid)

The Bunker until 23rd March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Section 2 | ★★★★ | June 2018
Breathe | ★★★★ | August 2018
Eris | ★★★★ | September 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com






Photography by Simon Annand

Click on an image for full size view


Production images have been released for Marius von Mayenburg’s Plastic which will run at Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio until Saturday 25 March.

The production will star Brenock O’Connor as Vincent, Charlotte Randle as Ulrike, Steve John Shepherd as Haulupa, Jonathan Slinger as Michael and Ria Zmitrowicz as Jessica. Plastic has been translated by Maja Zade and is directed by Olivier Award nominee Matthew Dunster.

Michael and Ulrike are on the brink. Michael is a doctor, with ambitions of heroic grandeur; Ulrike, his wife, is assistant to the infamous Serge Haulupa, a bizarre conceptual artist; Vincent, their teenage son is hitting puberty with a vengeance – and a video camera; Jessica Schmitt is the new cleaner thrust in to clean up their mess. Utter pandemonium ensues when Serge invites himself to Michael and Ulrike’s house to make art over dinner. The food fight is just the start of it…

Brenock O’Connor is best known for his role as Olly in Game of Thrones and Peter Cratchit in Dickensian. He also starred in the UK Tour of Oliver! as The Artful Dodger.

Charlotte Randle’s recent stage credits include Mary in Yerma (Young Vic), Medea (Almeida Theatre), Public Enemy (Young Vic) and Birdland (Royal Court). Television credits include Father Brown, The Trials of Jimmy Rose and Silent Witness.

Steve John Shepherd is best known for his role as Michael Moon in EastEnders. Theatre credits include The Good Canary (Rose Theatre Kingston), Bomber’s Moon (Trafalgar Studios) and Albion (Bush Theatre).

Jonathan Slinger was most recently seen as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane). Extensive credits for the RSC include the title role in Hamlet, Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well and Prospero in The Tempest.

Ria Zmitrowicz’s notable television credits include Miss Ellis in ITV’s Mr Selfridge and Jodie in Channel 4’s Youngers. Theatre credits include X (Royal Court), Four Minutes Twelve Seconds (Trafalgar Studios) and The Crucible (Royal Exchange Theatre).

Marius von Mayenburg is a trail-blazer for contemporary European theatre. In 2007 his play The Ugly One opened at the Royal Court to critical acclaim and in 2015 Martyr opened at the Unicorn Theatre.

Matthew Dunster is an Olivier Award nominated Director and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe. Recent productions include Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen (Royal Court; Wyndham’s Theatre), Liberian Girl (Royal Court), plus The Seagull and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Plastic is the first production in The German Season at the Ustinov Studio, which will present the UK premieres of two acclaimed plays from celebrated German writers. The season will conclude with Daniel Kehlmann’s The Mentor starring Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham. Directed by the Ustinov Studio’s Artistic Director Laurence Boswell and translated by Christopher Hampton the production will run from Thursday 6 April to Saturday 6 May.




By Marius von Mayenburg
In a translation by Maja Zade
Directed by Matthew Dunster

Thursday 23 February – Saturday 25 March 2017 | 7.45pm, Matinees Thu & Sat 2.30pm


Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath,

Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET


Box Office

01225 448844



Tickets: £19.50 / £14.50 discounts

(Preview Perfs and Mondays, all seats £12)


Post show Discussion: Thursday 23rd March, after evening performance




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