Typical debuted at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019 and soon became a sold-out hit at Soho Theatre. Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, its film version, an exciting combination of cinematography and theatre, shot during the pandemic, couldn’t be more accurate in 2021, and in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is a one-man show, inspired by Christopher Alder, a trainee computer programmer and British Army paratrooper, who died while in police custody in Hull in 1998. The production weaves the story of his tragic final day, combining the authentic events with creative fiction. From the moment the protagonist wakes up and suffers from hunger, until he is assaulted at the club and removed from the hospital despite his head injury, he depicts the blatant injustice and cruelty of systematic racism.
Both the writer, Ryan Calais Cameron, and the actor, Richard Blackwood, deserve a standing ovation. The script, full of wordplays and puns, presents the struggles that paradoxically, against the provocative title, are not typical at all. The neologic and dynamic language contrasts with the clock’s precision, which indicates the time of tragic events and brutality of the system. Richard Blackwood’s acting is absolutely exhilarating as, despite very spare stage design, he succeeds in embodying different people, places and emotions. Thanks to his dynamic stage movement, diction and charisma, his performance is believable and touching. Both artists powerfully explore the stereotypes of Black masculinity in the UK, show the pervasiveness of white supremacy and capture the importance of intersectionality.
Unfortunately, Christopher Alder, to whom the show pays tribute in the final scene, is not the only victim of systematic racism. Therefore, Typical, dedicated to all of them, reminds of the necessity for the battle for justice. The victims’ names fill the screen before the film ends, shedding light on sometimes forgotten, archival, heart-breaking stories which the white fragile society would prefer to forget about. The least you can do is look them up and watch the show. I did both.
Typical is available to stream on Soho Theatre On Demand