Photo: Johan Persson

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy is now on its second west end run, following a prior stint at the Apollo, and has also played at other high-profile London theatres including The Royal Court last year. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular – not only is it unlike anything else you’re likely to see on the West End, it also strikes an incredibly delicate balance, managing to be laugh-out-loud funny, uplifting, intelligent and moving at the same time. It’s also that rarest of creations: a piece of theatre that feels genuinely important.

Writer Ryan Calais Cameron created the show by conducting a series of therapy sessions for black men, covering an array of sensitive subjects. The resulting play explores themes including mental health, masculinity and sexuality – as its title suggest it can get pretty heavy at times, but it’s a beautifully balanced play: it has a knack of hitting you where it hurts, only for a sudden tonal shift resulting in the audience whooping and cheering a few moments later. It’s certainly an unpredictable evening, and all the better for it.

The cast is universally excellent – each of the six actors has a main role, but they’ll also sub in as a father figure or a friend or partner in each other’s stories as and when required. It’s a play that demands much of its actors – expert comic timing, a surprising amount of choreography, impressive singing… the list goes on. All six – Tobi King Bakare, Shakeel Haakim, Fela Lufadeju, Albert Magashi, Mohammed Mansaray and Posi Marakinyo – deliver on all fronts, with wonderfully nuanced performances.

We could go on all day about For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, but the bottom line is that this is simply a magnificent achievement in theatre, and probably the most essential viewing on the West End right now. It’s playing at the Garrick for a limited nine-week run – pick up a ticket while you can.

GAY TIMES gives For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy – 5/5

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