The Canary and The Crow
- Rachel Baker
- 12 August 2019
Brand new gig theatre piece about a black child's experience at a prestigious school
The show has already begun by the time you enter the theatre for The Canary and The Crow, as the actors and musicians bounce around the stage with enough energy to fill a stadium.
In this staggering new piece of gig theatre from Middle Child, Daniel Ward answers the question of what it is like to be a black kid in a white world, through the true story of his time at a prestigious grammar school. Comedic and uplifting, while deeply critical of societal racial assumptions, The Canary and The Crow is an astute and emotive comment on contemporary 'acceptable' racism.
Ward performs as himself, beginning from his first day of secondary school and describing how recognitions of colour difference found their way into his bright-eyed and bushy tailed naivety. Nigel Taylor, Laurie Jamieson and Rachel Barnes play his classmates and friends, switching between each with skilled caricature and physicality. All four of the actors are clearly ad-libbing at points, inviting audiences to get involved in classroom scenes and chants. This is done with such ease that it enhances the communal feel of the show, so it becomes a shared experience promoting solidarity amongst a personal story littered with instances of intolerance.
The musical score from Prez 96 and co-composer James Frewer perfectly echoes the dichotomy at the heart of Ward's experiences, the pressure to be a canary when he, quite rightly, is proud to be a crow. The more sombre tunes are equally powerful, turning this celebration of youth and difference into a reflection on where change still needs to occur. Ward's script doesn't provide a solution, but instead inspires the solidarity that is necessary to overcome these divisions. The audience was on their feet before the show was even finished in this outstanding piece of politically charged theatre.
Roundabout @ Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 13, 20), 7.50pm, £14–£15 (£12–£13).