Underground Railroad Game Critics & Reviews
The New York Times Critics’ Pick & Best of 2016“In-all-ways sensational.”
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times
Time Out New York Critics’ Pick & Best of 2016“Outrageously funny! Strikingly Rendered by bold, smart performances.”
– Adam Feldman, Time Out New York“Explosive! Fearlessly, ferociously uninhibited… the show’s most subversive quality is also quintessentially American: it’s wildly entertaining.”
– Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New Yorker“You’ve never seen a play quite like Underground Railroad Game.”
– Peter Marks, The Washington PostUnderground Railroad Game review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘fearless and explosive’
Featuring on the New York Times list of 25 best plays since Angels in America, Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R Sheppard’s play is a merciless exploration of race.
Inspired by a game that Sheppard actually played when he was at school in Pennsylvania, it divides the audience into Union and Confederate sides. The idea is to smuggle slaves – as represented by dolls – to freedom. Kidwell and Sheppard play teachers guiding the audience in this valuable learning experience. The game is just a springboard for a bold, ferocious comedy about the legacy of slavery and the way it permeates people’s interactions.
Kidwell and Sheppard play Teacher Caroline, who is black, and Teacher Stuart who is white. The pair beams at the audience and speaks to them with cheery, eager teacher voices. The two teachers then begin a relationship with one another. He’s unsure how to talk to a black woman. Her experience of race differs from his. Language is central to this. As Kidwell is quick to point out: “Those words don’t mean the same thing to me that they do to you.”
This leads to an excruciating (and hilarious) scene in which they exchange racially insensitive comments by way of flirtation. It cumulates with them stripped bare, exposed in every possible way, psychologically, physically.
Fortunately, they never make us play the game of the title. Instead, the piece, devised by Kidwell and Sheppard for their company Lightning Rod Special, takes the form of a series of vignettes. It opens with a skit in which a terrified black woman encounters a Quaker abolitionist. Later, Kidwell appears dressed as a Mammy figure and Sheppard gleefully disappears beneath her vast skirts. American racial archetypes are twisted and eviscerated: the white man as saviour and violator, the black woman as a source of sexual temptation.
The production is also intensely physical. Kidwell and Sheppard both use their bodies, their skin, to explore the weight of race and its complex role in American identity. The play plunges into places theatre rarely goes. The shame that sits like a stone in the stomach. The impossibility of escaping history.
The line between performer and performance, reality and representation becomes increasingly blurred. They end up drenched in sweat, panting with exhaustion, and staring at each other accusingly.
While its impact on an American audience might be greater than on an Edinburgh Fringe crowd, Taibi Magar’s production is still genuinely thrilling. Often shocking, it engages with things that still feel taboo. It’s funny but in a queasy, deeply unsettling way. It is discomfiting and slippery, complex and fascinating. This is explosive, fearless theatre and it’s impossible not to be rocked by it.By
: Natasha Tripney Ref Link : The Stage
21 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3NE
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21 Dean Street , London, W1D 3NE
London’s most vibrant venue for new theatre, comedy and cabaret
Bang in the creative heart of London, their Dean Street home is one of the country’s busiest venues with a year-round festival programme of theatre, comedy and cabaret, and a buzzing bar. By day they're a hive of writing, workshops, showcases, meetings and events and by night they’re stage to an average of six shows and a throng of audiences and artists seeing the work and having a great time.
They have over 2,000 performances a year here: Soho Theatre Upstairs is home to intimate, surprising and adventurous work; Soho Theatre Downstairs is their New York meets Berlin comedy and cabaret space; and, Soho Theatre is their stage for powerful new theatre, opera, musical, dance and comedy. Soho Theatre Bar is open from 10am, Monday to Saturday.
Their vision is to ambitiously expand beyond Dean Street with an additional larger venue beyond central London, a digital and TV presence, as well as a strong national and international touring programme. Hires
With three performance spaces and multiple meeting rooms, and bang in the heart of Soho, metres from Oxford Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho Theatre is the perfect place for your event.
Soho Upstairs is a studio space seating 80 – 94 people
Soho Theatre is a raked auditorium seating 140
Soho Downstairs is a cabaret venue seating 140
Meeting rooms can seat from 5 to 14 around tables
Hires are available from 9am until around 5pm or 6pm (depending on the set up time we need for our evening shows).
Hires of the performance spaces are available any day of the week. As the building is usually closed on Sundays, the meeting rooms are not usually available on Sundays.
Soho Theatre Bar is an airy, lively space for a welcome drink or an event reception.Access
We aim to reach the widest possible audience and make your visit to Soho Theatre as enjoyable as we can. This starts with our work on stage and continues throughout our building.
As well as providing a range of accessible performances, Soho Theatre is also accessible to wheelchair-users using our elevator to reach the theatre spaces, has an infra-red system (with five headsets) in the main theatre and a hearing loop system in Soho Downstairs. You can also use your own headphones in the infra-red units. We welcome accredited assistance animals (Please bring along relevant certification).Facilities At Soho Theatre
Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Tube lines: Central, Northern
Location: Fringe/Off West End
Railway station: Charing Cross
Bus numbers: 38, 14, 19
Night bus numbers: N19, N38
Car park: NCP Brewer Street
Within congestion zone?: Yes