Tag Archives: Shireen Mula

My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid


The Bunker

My White Best Friend

My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker

Reviewed – 25th November 2019



“a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see”


On arrival at the Bunker Theatre we are handed wristbands, and enter into a theatre space transformed. There are three pieces of stage, in the corner is a DJ, and milling around are the audience, stood waiting, ready. Posters adorn the walls that highlight the show’s history and echoing the gig-like set up designed by Khadija Raza.

The first letter, by Rachel De-Lahay, the night’s curator, begins with a request to reshuffle the space, putting black and brown, queer and female bodies, front and centre.

This first letter is to her best friend, her white best friend, and it is read by Inès de Clercq. It is about the micro-aggressions, as well as the macro, the things people say that they don’t mean, that they don’t even see the problem in, the things that hurt all the more for it. The letter talks about white privilege, about how even a best friend can be part of the problem. “This is the fight you and your white best friend will never have,” writes De-Lahay, highlighting how much is left unsaid.

The second letter is to a “white ex situation-man-ship”, read by Tom Mothersdale, a white actor, who is reading these words for the first time. It touches upon the white privilege surrounding drug addiction and the way it is talked about. The letter and final letter of the evening starts, “Dear so-called allies.” Read by Susan Wokoma, our writer takes us back to Stonewall, to the erasure of a black and brown history and a trans history in the way Stonewall is remembered and celebrated today.

These letters are from different people, to different people, but they share a power. They are funny sometimes, and moving at other times, and generous and unforgiving and brave, spilling over with words that have been left on the tips of tongues too many times to count.

‘My White Best Friend (And Even More Letters Left Unsaid)’ is back by popular demand, with new letters and performers each night, and it isn’t hard to see why. The audience audibly responds to what is being read out, to a mis-pronounciation of a black name by a white actors, to things they recognise in their own experience, to things they will leave here with trying harder to recognise in their black and brown friends’ experiences. It is hard not to respond, like that, in the middle of the space, surrounded by people.

Directed by Milli Bhatia, this is a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown


My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker until 30th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | November 2019


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Why is the Sky Blue? – 5 Stars


Why is the Sky Blue?

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 1st May 2018


“rightfully disturbing show but it is also artistically impressive and highly entertaining”


Drawn from the voices of 10,000 children and young people, a group of actors, representing a diversity of age, race and sexuality, portray the powerful impact pornography is having on a vulnerable society. For ‘Why is the Sky Blue?’, director Abbey Wright extracted the essence of interviews she had conducted in schools and theatres all over the country in which she recorded discussions on this sensitive subject and, more generally, on love and connection. With the dramaturgical collaboration of Shireen Mula, she has transformed their words into a theatrical statement on the need to repair the damage done by the accessibility of pornography to this age group. The show is aimed at adults to demonstrate the need to talk and listen to children, but Barnardos and Tackroom Theatre have also joined together on an educational project offering support.

After an ice-breaking opening by one of the youngest members, we meet the rest of this talented troupe whose ages range from 6 to 22, all strikingly at ease on stage. With energy and flair, the testimony of thousands is presented, building a picture of a situation they are part of. They interact with the audience in humorous question and answer sequences and tell stories of real experiences. There are excellent performances of Matt Regan’s pastiches, expertly composed in true musical theatre style. The messages of the pensive ‘question’ song, the melancholy ballad, the upbeat numbers and the grand finale are driven home by the poignant lyrics. On several occasions the mood changes and we listen to their face to face re-enactments of eye opening conversations.

Slick choreography (Josie Daxter), as we pass through the various sections of the show, creates engaging pace and fluidity. Elliot Grigg’s lighting is in perfect harmony with the different elements, notably in the contrasting musical moments. The array of chairs used for the set, designed by James Turner, make for versatile group combinations while keeping the whole cast together – a reminder of the compass of fragile ages touched by this issue. Cleverly, the familiar sight of the young wearing headphones is incorporated to include everyone, but specifically to protect the younger children from being exposed to “inappropriate” material.

The disconnection pornography produces means that it remains a clandestine, unspoken area, individually absorbed, used and hidden. Whether it is revelation for the pre-internet generation or incredulity for those who trust parental blocks, it is painful to be confronted by this aspect of modern life. Although, or perhaps because, the tone tends towards the lighthearted, even though the script is often moving or explicit, one comes away bewildered by the blow of reality; the importance of being made aware sinks in more slowly. ‘Why is the Sky Blue?’ is a rightfully disturbing show but it is also artistically impressive and highly entertaining.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Marc Brenner


Why is the Sky Blue?

Southwark Playhouse until 19th May



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