Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death

"Your white meat is cooked"

Audrey review: Nakkiah Lui’s sense of humour weaponised and aimed straight at the soft liberal underbelly.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

Blackie Blackie Brown

Date: 19 May 2018

In retro-pop terms, if Nakkiah Lui’s Black is the New White is her Ebony and Ivory, then Blackie Blackie Brown: Traditional Owner of Death is her Fear of a Black Planet.

This is Lui’s sense of humour weaponised and aimed straight at the soft liberal underbelly.

Riffing on superhero origins stories and revenge movies, Blackie Blackie Brown charts the transformation of Dr Jacqueline Brown (Megan Wilding, making her Sydney Theatre Company debut) from mild-mannered archaeologist to unstoppable black angel of death after she absorbs the spirit of her great-great-grandmother from a skull discovered in a mass grave.

Jacqueline, now Blackie Blackie Brown, is charged with incredible powers and a mission: to murder the 400 descendants of the perpetrators of the massacre in the space of one lunar cycle.

Whether they are robe-wearing members of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan or bleeding heart liberals, Blackie Blackie Brown shows no mercy. One way or another, their “white meat is cooked”.

Directed by Declan Greene (Calpurnia Descending), the show rattles along in propulsive, frame-by-frame style.

Projected animations by artist Emily Johnson (in cahoots with digital content makers Oh Yeah Wow) are cleverly used to whip the storyline into the realms of Jacqueline’s ancestors and from location to location as her rampage unfolds. They also provide the necessary ZAP! and POW!! for the fight sequences.

Numerous trapdoors in Elizabeth Gadsby’s Advent calendar-like stage design allow for surprise incursions and exits. The interface between live and digital action is a goldmine of slapstick and meta-theatrical gags.

Wilding is terrific. This is her first top billing after making a strong impression with smaller roles (in Belvoir’s The Rover, for example) and she carries the show with ease. She has comic chops to burn and the dramatic skills to check out of the mayhem and deliver an unflinching monologue that is this show’s punch to the gut.

Flanders provides excellent fly-in-fly-out support in a dozen or more roles, the most significant being a fork-tongued politician and the delightfully daffy descendent of a murderer who escapes BBB’s razor-edged boomerang only to die as a volunteer human firewall.

There are enjoyable video spots from newsreaders Amelia Adams and Hugh Riminton and actor Luke Carroll. The mellifluous Peter Carroll voices Brown’s malfunctioning computer sidekick and target-acquisition system A.C.O.O.N.

Much of the interplay between the digital and the theatrical is novel and excellent, particularly that featuring a sassy Elaine Crombie as Jacqueline’s great-great-grandmother. Other sequences, while graphically inventive, outstay their purpose, however.

There’s a sizeable flat spot in a long sequence devoted to the hunting down of a racist Brisbane cop and the climax of the play, featuring a giant pair of inflatable testicles, is a lot less funny than you imagine it could be.

Blackie Blackie Brown is fierce and funny but it’s a 90 minute show with 70-minutes of weapons-grade material.

Content
All My Sleep and Waking
Add to favourites
ArchivedOld 505 Theatre, Newtown, Sydney 28 Nov - 22 Dec 2018

All My Sleep and Waking

As a father approaches death, his three children try to reconcile three very different experiences of the same man.

Blak Box
Add to favourites
ArchivedBlacktown Showground Precinct, Blacktown, Sydney 9 Jan - 2 Feb 2019

Blak Box

Sydney Festival: Urban Theatre Projects installs its surround-sound pavilion, Blak Box, in the heart of Western Sydney.

Counting and Cracking
Add to favourites
ArchivedSydney Town Hall, Sydney 11 Jan - 2 Feb 2019

Counting and Cracking

A timely illustration of the ways in which Australia transforms those who come here and is itself transformed.

See More

More to see

View All
Brett & Wendy: A Love Story Bound by Art
Add to favourites
ArchivedRiverside Theatres, Parramatta, Sydney 18 - 27 Jan 2019

Brett & Wendy: A Love Story Bound by Art

Sydney Festival: A deep dive into the world of the Whiteleys has theatre maker Kim Carpenter revisiting conflicted feelings about his own direction in art.

Crime and Punishment
Add to favourites
ArchivedLimelight on Oxford, Darlinghurst, Sydney 12 - 22 Dec 2018

Crime and Punishment

A fresh adaptation of one of the most extraordinary novels of all time gets inside the mind of a destitute student who commits a brutal murder.

Deer Woman
Add to favourites
ArchivedCarriageworks, Eveleigh, Sydney 16 - 20 Jan 2019

Deer Woman

Sydney Festival: A solo warrior woman work of righteous vengeance, starring storyteller, activist and comedian Cherish Violet Blood.

Dust
Add to favourites
ArchivedIPAC, Merrigong, NSW 14 - 16 Mar 2019

Dust

One of the outstanding works of physical theatre presented in this year's Sydney Festival, Dust invites you to consider how we can scrutinise the past in order to shape the future.

Top