Contains minor plot spoilers
Resounding cheers and a standing ovation greeted the end of last night’s performance of Revealed, at Tobacco Factory Theatres. Not content with the final bows, audience members stamped their feet and refused to leave the auditorium until the actors graced the stage for one final curtain call.
This was an entirely proportionate response to what had been a truly brilliant piece of theatre. This is a play putting the authentic voices and lives of Black people front and centre, resulting in high-quality storytelling.
Set in the warm, safe enclosure of the family’s Caribbean cafe diner, the outside world is one of chaos and rioting. A Black teenage boy has been beaten into a coma by police officers. He remains in a critical condition and it doesn’t look good for him. It’s the catalyst for serious social unrest against centuries of racial injustice and systemic racism.
Whilst the invisible drama builds outside, we barely have to imagine what’s going on. We’ve seen the highly televised police violence in the face of the Black Lives Matter movement in America. The police vans exploding in flames in recent Kill The Bill clashes in Bristol.
The drama builds tangibly inside the cafe as well. Innocuously at first. Family squabbles. Inter-generational differences. Cash versus Apple Pay. The frustrations of the middle aged son trying to push his aging Jamaican father into prioritising the changing needs of the food industry in 2022 Birmingham.
Malcolm – played by Daniel J Carver – is angry. He’s angry at what’s going on outside, feeling the pull to right centuries of racial injustice. He’s also angry at his dad Sidney, who was absent from several years of his childhood. A grudge he still holds and affects his relationship with others today.
Sidney – played by Everal A Walsh – laments that violence is not the answer to solving issues. Performing throughout in Jamaican Patois, his plea in the face of a family in crisis becomes understandable in light of Act Two revelations.
Luther is Malcom’s teenage son – played by Dylan Brady. He’s a gentler soul. Apparently happy to get along at college. But even he is harbouring secrets he has been unable to talk about. Luther is gay. He’s been hiding it from his father, but under pressure, he ends up coming out near the end of Act Two with explosive results.
Revealed is so gripping that you are right in the scene with them. I forgot I was watching theatre during Act One. Come the interval, you feel dazed at the events that have unfolded.
As is the nature of a family barney, there are peaks and troughs in the high drama, with moments of love and humour perfectly balancing out scenes of extreme tension.
Act Two is the gentler start we need. It’s an exploration of what it means for a gay black teenager to come out and his grandfather’s reaction to this.
It’s not long until it kicks off again, the audience becoming highly animated, barely concealing their horror as events spiral.
It becomes apparent that Malcom’s anger comes from a misplaced sense of love and protection he is unable to communicate. It’s not alright, but it’s complicated and nuanced not stereotyped. It highlights a societal gap in provision for men to work through difficult feelings and mental health needs. It’s buried trauma and upset causing them to wrongly lash out at those around them instead. “Tell him you love him,” the grandfather implores to his son as the play ends.
This was an outstanding piece of work. Brilliantly written, brilliantly performed and brilliantly directed. It makes you want to shout out. Wade onto the stage and stop what’s going on. At times it’s hard to watch, challenging. And that’s exactly what theatre should be doing. Engaging people, entertaining but also challenging them.
The show runs in at two hours ten minutes, including interval and this time simply sails by. It does have moments of violence, descriptions of violence and homophobic and racist language. It’s recommended for audiences aged 16 years upwards, which feels right.
Revealed is a really important play. It highlights the disparities in equalities affecting Racialised Communities which impacts to generation to generation. There’s a lot of love between the cracks and revelations but also a lot to reflect upon.
Cast and Creatives
Everal A Walsh – Sidney
Daniel J Carver – Malcolm
Dylan Brady – Luther
Written by Daniel J Carver
Directed by Jay Zorenti-Nakhid
Designer – Amanda Mascarenhas
Sound Designer and Composer – Khalil Madovi
Lighting Designer – Joe Price
Movement and Fight Director – Kevin McCurdy
Revealed is at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 08 October 2022.
For more information or to book tickets, visit: https://tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/revealed/