Typical is about an evening that white people will never experience. It is a sharp and angry exploration of life for a black man on the streets of Britain. And it is based on real events.
For a black man, leaving home for a night out is never an uncomplicated evening of enjoyment. He will have to anticipate, dodge and negotiate the everyday racism that comes from being the “coco pop in the bowl of milk”. He will have to cope with fear, hatred and objectification. And he will have to remain calm throughout.
Based on the life of Christopher Alder an ex-serviceman, Typical takes us through the detail of a single evening in April 1998 which ended with his death in policy custody from asphyxiation.
Richard Blackwood of Hollyoaks and EastEnders fame, turns in an astonishing performance as Christopher Alder. He rises to the challenge of making what is in essence a monologue on a bare stage into a compelling drama, full of passion and energy, which draws you into the life and thoughts of a young black man.
Peppered with rhyming verse and musical quotes and references, the script is a timeline of Christopher’s last harrowing evening. Although ultimately tragic, it is not without humour and lightness of touch.
There is also enough pace and creative potential to enable Blackwood to bring to life a range of characters and situations. He achieves a fine balance between the different moods and emotions of a young man simply out to enjoy himself but struggling against forces determined to rob him of his humanity.
Racism appears in many forms and gathers pace throughout the evening. Christopher has to wait longer in the queue than white people; he has to cope with being elbowed off the dance floor; and he has to deal with a woman – who, “while her dad would kill her” – wants to experiment with a black man’s “virility”. But as the evening progresses things become more serious. He gets racially abused and beaten badly on the street by a group of white men. In hospital his anger, pain and frustration are seen as “aggressive, intimidating and abusive” leading inevitably to his removal and arrest for disturbing the peace. Events in policy custody painfully and tragically unfold.
Typical is campaigning theatre. It is meant to disturb, and anger, and ensure that Christopher Alder’s life and death are not forgotten. This is a worthy endeavour and you should see it if you can.
Release date: 24th February 2021 on Soho Theatre On Demand
Standard Streaming price: £9.99 (£7.99 for Early Bird registration – see website for further details)