Racheal Ofori: Portrait at the Royal Festival Hall
As part of the Southbank’s WOW (Women of the World) Festival, Racheal Ofori brings her acclaimed solo show to the Royal Festival Hall. Mining her own experiences and the stereotypes that she’s often expected to embody, she presents us with a tongue-in-cheek portrait of modern life as seen through her eyes.
A writer, actor and dancer, Ofori has an impressively wide array of talents that she dazzles viewers with during her 60 minutes on stage. A vivacious performer, she effortlessly slips back and forth between characters as she explores what it means to be a black woman or girl in the world today: standing ram-rod straight and wearing spectacles, she’s an earnest academic on the cusp of studying art history at Oxford (her parents wouldn’t be down with a gap year anyway – “Your grandmother didn’t leave a third-world country so you could volunteer in one”); eyes closed, headdress on and arms in the air, she’s the loquacious pastor, preaching to her flock and extolling the need for the young to aim high and take responsibility for their own actions and achievements; then she’s the smiling young woman from Ghana, twerking her way into our hearts, whose dreams of a better life rapidly dwindle when she reaches a rainy and cold-hearted England.
Under the assured direction of Kate Hewitt (associate director on Sam Mendes’ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), each of these snapshots (and more) is brought to life by Ofori’s brilliant ear for accents and her skilful writing. Often loud-out-loud funny, the script incorporates some very clever and lyrical spoken word poetry. When the street-smart, cynical Candice (the star of the show) finally decides to lay her heart on her sleeve at her do-gooding teacher’s counselling session, the audience holds its breath. As she indignantly questions why she should go to university just to satisfy a broken system, hers is a surprisingly poetic response to an often unjust and unequal society.
Portrait introduces Ofori as a versatile and intelligent new voice. It will be interesting to see just what she does with it next.
The Women of the World Festival is on at the Southbank Centre from 8th until 13th March 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
For further information about Rachel Ofori and future events visit here.