Noughts & Crosses, the stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s novel of the same name, premiered at Derby Theatre back in 2019, before embarking on a UK tour. It is currently touring the UK for a second time, playing its first performance of the year in Manchester.
Noughts & Crosses is the name of of Blackman’s novel series, which is made up of six books, as well as the first novel in the series. BBC News included the first book on its list of the 100 most inspiring novels whilst The Guardian ranked it #88 in its list of 100 Best Books of the 21st Century.
The speculative fiction series describes an alternative history and takes place in an alternative 21st-century Britain. In the series, African nations had colonised Europe and enslaved the indigenous populations. By the time the series begins, slavery has been abolished for some time, but segregation, similar to the Jim Crow Laws, continues to operate to keep the Crosses (dark-skinned people) in control of the Noughts (light-skinned people). An international organisation, the Pangaean Economic Community, exists. Seeming to be similar to the United Nations in scope but similar to the European Union in powers, it is playing a role in forcing change by directives and boycotts.
The play is an adaptation of the first novel, which had previously been adapted and directed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, touring the UK in 2008. The play focuses on the forbidden love between Sephy and Callum.
“Sephy and Callum sit together on a beach. They are in love. It is forbidden. Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Nought. Between Noughts and Crosses there are racial and social divides. A segregated society teeters on a volatile knife edge. As violence breaks out, Sephy and Callum draw closer, but this is a romance that will lead them into terrible danger.”
This gripping Romeo and Juliet is a captivating drama of love, revolution, and what it means to grow up in a divided world. The tour is timely, for the second series of the 2020 BBC television adaptation is set to premiere in April, after the tour has closed.