Theatre Review: Revealed at The Tobacco Factory, Bristol
Men, men, men. You might ask, where are the women in Daniel J Carver’s inter-generational family drama, Revealed. Grandma and mum are both talked about of how they were abused and assaulted but also how they showed empathy and common sense as resentments and secrets spill out as a family trio confront each other. Grandfather Sidney, dad Malcolm and son Luther are locked in the family’s Caribbean café while outside a riot prevents their escape. And that confinement generates the drama with its themes of identity, masculinity, sexuality and parenting. And what a brilliantly acted drama Revealed is – as it grips from the opening physical theatre to its revelatory conclusion.
In a five-star production directed with extraordinary pace by Jay Zorenti-Nakhid Revealed is a universal story of family members coming to terms with their pasts, their presents and their futures. And in particular three generations of British black men which only adds to the layers of anger, conflict and prejudice played with astonishing realism by the cast. Patriarch Everal A Walsh as peace-maker Sidney is a hostage to his penal past due to a violent reaction to racial slurs. Daniel J Carver is his angry son Malcolm who has bottled up resentment at the way society and the police treat black men. The playwright and actor gave a blistering testosterone fuelled portrayal of a man frustrated by his own prejudices and shortcomings. And the baby of the family, teenager Luther played by Dylan Brady was the voice of the future and of reason but also the fashion-loving dandy behind the play’s title.
Credit to Kevin McCurdy for the believably violent fight scenes mostly generated by belligerent protagonist Malcolm. Credit too for Amanda Mascarenhas’s set design with its fractured wall and photographs of famous but also compromised black icons – while the café’s menu illustrated Caribbean cuisine ranging from goat curry to fried chicken leaving this critic feeling very hungry.
The words of poet Sukina Noor who spoke in the bar area before curtain-up set the scene as she listed the many facets of the lives of black men in 21st century Britain. Revealed is not just a play but an important cultural moment in Bristol’s social history. It’s a play that doesn’t patronise, doesn’t play the victim but fully investigates the lives of black men in all their aspects. It played to a full house with many from the black and Asian Bristolian communities in the audience – a sector that is often missing from theatre audiences.
The themes of absent fathers, abused partners and parenting in all its forms in Daniel J Carver’s script were ingeniously over-laid with the wider issues of prejudice and race, police brutality and a lack of opportunities – and yet it had much humour and comic moments. The hyper realistic dialogue as the characters talked over each other (exceptionally difficult as actors can easily lose their cues), not listening to each other and contradicting each other was brilliant. A piece of theatre that enjoyed a standing ovation at the end.
The play runs at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, until October 8th, 2022.
For information and tickets visit https://tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/revealed/
Produced by Tobacco Factory Theatres. Co-commissioned by Tobacco Factory Theatres and The Red Earth Collective. Developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate programme.
Casting notes: Everal A Walsh (Rockets And Blue Lights at the National Theatre, Dr Who for BBC and Oscar-nominated Best Picture of the Year 2019 The Favourite), Dylan Brady (best-known for his portrayal of Danny in Coronation Street), and the play’s writer Daniel J Carver (Henry VI Parts 2 and 3 at Royal Shakespeare Company).