Shuck ‘n’ Jive (Soho Theatre on Demand Film Festival, online)

Shuck ‘n’ Jive is the debut play from Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong & Simone Ibbett-Brown, directed by Soho Theatre Associate Director Lakesha Arie-Angelo. It was staged at Soho Theatre in 2019.

Here, Cassi (played by Tanisha Spring) and Simone (played by Olivia Onyehara) explore the journey of creating a piece of theatre that presents them as individuals, not just by the colour of their skin.

With a fresh and original approach to dramatic construction, this play (at just over an hour) visits a dazzling parade of genres and opinions within a frame of comedy and music as the conversations progress.

Production photo from Shuck 'n' Jive

Whether the women are taking part in a game show or an audition, the spectre of theatrical token inclusion and racism resurfaces again and again. It’s a clever way of approaching a subject of discrimination in both theatre and life.

In a white set with black frames with props dotted around, scenes and situations are explored in a way to make us feel both included and excluded, and certainly to think about we approach our own unconscious biases.

Blaxsploitation, abusive language, and unthinking prejudices are all explored within Spring and Onyehara’s physical, committed and powerful performances. Flashes of anger are held at bay, unique traits outside of colour are captured and celebrated. A piece of theatre is created.

Production photo from Shuck 'n' Jive

As a piece of digital theatre, Arie-Angelo utilises camera angles and framing well, closing in on scenes when needed and capturing the energy of both performers. This is a piece of drama that works well in the medium.

Spring and Onyehara display an honest and friendly chemistry throughout this play, whether singing snatches of song to highlight moments in the script, play games, or digging deep into their own life experience.

You can watch Shuck ‘n’ Jive in the Soho Theatre on Demand Film Festival until 27 February – more details here.

Image credit: Helen Maybanks