Black Is The New White

February 8, 2018

Last year was a stellar year for the Queensland Theatre and 2018 is off to a cracking start with the opening of the hilarious action rom- com “Black is the New White”.

Written by the talented Nakkiah Lui the play, at QPAC – Playhouse Theatre, is a cross between 2004 Hollywood hit comedy “Meet the Fockers” starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro and the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, starring Sidney Poitier.

The ensemble cast features SheSociety favourites – Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens.

The opening night audience was treated to lots of laughs, a little bit of naughtiness and some gentle social commentary which they rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the end of the night.

If you are looking for a great night out in Brisbane this February “Black is the New White” is a must-see.

The Play

The Play is set at Christmastime where two warring families come together with hilarious results.

Smart and successful Aboriginal lawyer, Charlotte has fallen head over heels with Francis Smith, an unemployed and white classical composer.

Unbeknown to their families they are engaged. So what could go so wrong?

Charlotte just happens to be the daughter of Australia’s most charismatic Aboriginal politician and Francis is the son of his arch-rival the dour and conservative Dennison Smith.

As the bitterly opposed families collide in the Gibson’s glitzy holiday mansion over Christmas dinner, this long standing feud comes to a head.

Cue a sharp- witted and funny struggle for dominance with insults being traded, secrets coming out and slapstick comedy all helping to shine a light on contemporary issues from race, sexism and sexuality, religion, status and entitlement through to aspiration and oppression.

The laugh-out-loud play is full of energetic action which will have you laughing and thinking long after you’ve left the theatre.

The Cast

Many of the cast have played these roles before and their enthusiasm and sense of fun is infectious. From the first glimpse of the charismatic narrator- Luke Carroll, you know you’re in for a great night. You may recognise Luke from “Home and Away” and “Redfern Now”.

Charlotte is played by Shari Sebbens whose credits include “The Sapphire”, “Australia Day” and last year’s successful Queensland Theatre production – “An Octoroon”. Her sister, Rosie  is played by the much – loved Miranda Tapsell ( Love Child, The Sapphires).

Tony Briggs plays Dad- Roy Gibson (The Sapphires, The Slap) and his sensible wife Joan is played by Melodie Reynolds -Diarra also last seen here in Queensland in  “An Octoroon”. Melodie has an impressive body of work having tread the boards since she was sixteen years old.

Vanessa Downing and Geoff Morrell play Francis’ parents Marie and Dennison. Vanessa’s character was one of my favourites becoming funnier and funnier as the play went on.

Vanessa has appeared in countless plays and many television series including “Water Rats” and “Rake”. The uptight Dennison was played to perfection by Geoff Morrell who you’d remember from “Top of The Lake” and “Packed to the Rafters”.

Tom Stokes makes the most of his Queensland Theatre debut as the gauche yet loving Francis. You might have seen Tom in “The Railwayman” and “Australia: The Story of Us”.

For a rugby nut like me it was a bonus to watch the versatile Anthony Taufa play Sonny Jones, Rosie’s husband,who was a rugby player, turned banker, turned born again Christian.

His comedic timing and facial expressions were superb. Anthony was also in “An Octoroon” and the film “Down Under”.

This wonderful ensemble cast were having fun and it was easy to believe they were a family such was the chemistry on stage.

As a writer you sometimes read or see something that makes you feel like you should put the pen down and leave it to the masters. Nakkiah Lui’s script had me doing just that. It was a witty social commentary filled with laughter, love but also subtle and gentle messages for us all. It shows an Aboriginal family in a different way and  is an inspiring and uplifting piece filled with a little light handed romance and love.

“Black is the New White” is playing in Brisbane until February 17. It really is a joyous experience, so you’d better be quick. This play will sell out fast.

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).