Claudia Rankine is a genius, and, in all honesty, the review could end there. But, for the sake of those who would be interested in reading a slight expansion on that statement, here goes…
The White Card is Rankine’s first published play which shows the imagined fault line between Black and White lives. This particular production is directed by Natalie Ibu and is the UK and European premiere of the play.
The play focuses primarily on a dinner. Charlotte, a Black female artist, is invited to dinner with two White art collectors, their White art dealer and their White son. What begins as a formal business dinner quickly becomes a tense debate about White privilege, cultural appropriation, and representation.
The conversations between audience members that followed after the play ended are part of the power of the play.
The only lapse in the power of the play is the moment when the members of the ensemble hold mirrors up to the audience while Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ plays in the background. Although the sentiment of this moment is strong, the notion of holding mirrors up for the audience to see that they are part of the problem feels rather gimmicky and overused.
It was devastating to see empty seats at a play that should be seen by as many people as possible, especially in the aftermath of BLM world, where Western society reckons with the legacy of slavery and colonialism (systemic racism). This play is thoughtful, inventive and provocative – and most importantly, necessary.
The White Card continues its UK tour until July.