STAGE REVIEW: Braids and Cheer Up Slug @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (12.10.21) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A double-bill of debut plays by women and about women exploring growing up in the North East, Braids and Cheer Up Slug offer radically different perspectives on growing up and finding yourself in the early 21st Century.

Anchored by the heartwarming friendship sketched by whip-smart and funny duo Rochelle Goldie and Xsara-Sheneille Pryce, Braids shares significant DNA with Spike Lee’s School Daze, both getting into the weeds on youth, colourism and hair texture discrimination. Born of the clash between Euro and Afrocentric concepts of Black beauty and the cultural intricacies around hair and identity, Braids finds a gorgeous groove when it zooms in from the macrocultural to the profoundly personal, and two friends unearth what truly connects them.

Cheer Up Slug kicks off as a farce about chalk-and-cheese friends arriving for a Duke of Edinburgh camping challenge with misaligned expectations and elevates into something else entirely. When the hilarious David Fallon cedes the floor to a jaw-dropping Jackie Edwards, a bracing monologue flips the whole thing into a critical examination of consent and toxic behaviour, never once offering up a get-out-of-jail-free card based on the players being young.

Alongside exploring complementary themes around the expectations of others, cheek-and-jowl friendships, and life in the North, both plays are linked by striking direction with minimal sets and affecting performances from the four leads that linger long after the lights go up.

Braids & Cheer Up Slug are at Live Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 23rd October

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