When: Friday 10th July
Where: Rich Mix
What: Sweet Like Chocolate Boy- Written, Directed and Performed by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu. Co-Directed by Lynette Linton
A one man show is not easy to pull off. However, you would not know this by watching recent Performing Arts graduate and triple threat writer, actor and directer Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, who gave the classic form a fresh new perspective.
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy, a spoken word piece opens with the thunderous proclamation, “Booyakasha!” and this set the tone for the rest of the performance, where poetic flow of writing, comedic energy and physicality almost makes you forget you are watching only one guy.
SLCB is an amalgam of several inner city youth personalities, carefully reconstructed and their fates chronicled with the help of an onstage DJ, playing a sequence of 90s old school garage songs (the title of the play based on the popular hit song of the same name by artists Shanks and Bigfoot) which help build a surreal and imaginative taste of estate life. A love letter to 90s garage , the growth and poetry of London streets.
The spoken word piece follows the lives of two protagonists Mars and Bounty (strategically named by his peers because he is well spoken and black) . Mars, speaking in the present day, is a defensive black street activist. A modern day black panther with a fervent hatred for the police whom he describes as “Dickheads in a suit“.
Bounty narrates through the 90s about the loss of his innocence, the power of knowledge and the internal complexities of being a black male in Britain. A sprinkling of characters representing various roles in society in those time periods: the racist policeman, the playground badass with a dominating sexual prowess, the young black sellout and the mentor, in this case aptly named Prophet. Sharp one liners, such as Sandra (dubbed the scariest girl in the world by Bounty) and her defiant feminist catchphrase “Those who don’t hear must feel!” and Mars’s “I see dead youts” are proof of the writer’s ability to keep the audience laughing heartily one minute and gasping with shock the next.
The lighting and music transitions gave the audience a visual cue to sharp changes in the timelines, although these were barely noticeable due to Tristan’s outstanding physicality. Each character has their own walk, their own carefully crafted speech patterns, each melting into one another with the agility expected of broadway veterans. In a closing scene where Bounty enthusiastically dances through the audience and shouts rythmically “Do you really like it? Is it, is it wicked?” when we all shouted back, “We’re loving it, loving it, loving it.“, we weren’t lying.
Imaginative and thought provoking writing, breaking down stereotypes of black life and times. Especially relevant at a time when black lives and their historical importance are continually being dissected and scrutinised in the media, here is proof of what black youth in britain are capable of achieving- creating art beyond their societal constrictions.
In a recent iterview with Nellie Tandoh of the website The British Blacklist, Tristan reveals his working process and all future projects. Check it out here.