Hollywood’s history of whitewashing is a familiar narrative by now, but Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s play, presented by Black Bat Productions, offers a fresh perspective into the unscrupulous world of the wrongdoers.
Proving his adeptness at both writing and performing, Brimmer-Beller plays David, one of two producers of a new film that is set to sweep the ‘Goldie’ award nominations. Less than an hour before the nominations are announced it is revealed that the film’s protagonist - played by a white actor - was, in real life, actually black. Over the next forty minutes, the two producers scramble to shield themselves from the potentially career-ending ramifications of their ignorance, frantically schmoozing industry bigwigs and scheming, plotting and postulating with a fervent desperation.
The premise is a compelling one, scripted with a cutthroat cynicism that depicts Hollywood in a none-too-exaggerated bleak light. Brimmer-Beller’s performance is admirable; he oozes a smarmy yet endearing professional charm at the outset which morphs convincingly into the self-absorbed posturing of spoiled entitlement. An intriguing extra layer is added when one considers he originally wrote the role for a white actor; insincere declarations about the ‘badness’ of slavery take on arguably more sinister undertones of internalised racism even as their irony rings more clearly.
Maddy Chisholm-Scott, who plays Kate, has a nervous energy that suits the character well, and her deadpan delivery generates some healthy laughs. Her performance is not quite so attuned to some of the script’s mastery, however; what has been written, one must imagine, to come across as genuine speech - an undeniably tricky feat - occasionally rings less than true, with phrases intended to capture the chaos and messiness of normal conversation feeling stilted or recited. The two actors do seem to gel well onstage, but lack the wholly convincing naturalness that would transcend the play into a remarkable feat of theatre.
It is nonetheless an enjoyable watch, with a clever twist which encapsulates the overall feel of the show. In another nod to the numerous successes of the script, the 45-minute performance passes in no time at all, due to a well-paced narrative which does not belabour the point it is trying to make.
You can find out more about Black Bat Productions’ upcoming work here.