Theatre / Black women

Review: Shades of our Lives, St George’s

By sue jones, Monday Oct 28, 2019

Shades of our Lives by Black Women Let Loose was a fascinating mix of moving and funny, strong and sensitive, real-life and hype.

At St George’s on ​Friday, six black women from Bristol told snippets of their lives, opening windows onto a different world (for me, as a white person). Focusing on identity – adoption into a white family, being gay… Several had wrestled with ‘Should I change my name to make it easier to say, or am I denying my heritage?’. One had sent in her swimsuit-snapshot to Radio 1’s Steve Wright for his ‘best-tan’ competition.

Then we had the surreal and hilarious ‘Are You Black Enough?’ game show. Contestants stepped forward if they ‘passed’ the black stereotype, but had to take two steps back if they ‘failed’. Which they all did. What do you drive? What music do you like? Where did you go on holiday? Motorbike, choral music and skiing in the Alps, were not the ‘right’ answers. Stereotypes are not real life.

What this show did for me was to give a brief glimpse into the lives of people born with a darker skin, so we pale ones could begin to understand the difference this makes. And the Hair vs Age vs Skin Hustings answered questions we never dared ask.

This show had just the right combination of spoken word, dance, music, and changing pace to keep it interesting and entertaining. It never flagged, and was warmly received by the packed audience. Well done, Black Women Let Loose.

Shades of our Lives was performed on Friday, October 25. For more info on Black Women Let Loose, visit

Read more: Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Tobacco Factory Theatres

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