The Moors proves a fascinating look at Shakespeare and race at Tara Theatre
“I never get cast in Ibsen or Chekhov”
It’s almost like a pub quiz kinda question – how many black characters did Shakespeare actually write? The answer’s three (Othello, Aaron from Titus Andronicus and the Prince of Morocco from The Merchant of Venice) and even with that number, they’re often far too uninterrogated (the last two in particular) as representations of migrants on stage.
It is this kind of thinking that drove Tonderai Munyevu to write The Moors, a Two Gents Productions running at the Tara Theatre. A freewheeling two-hander that poses some really big questions about integration and representation, it follows two African men on the hunt for Shakespeare and coming up hard against the realities for actors of colour.
Munyevu and fellow co-performer Tunji Lucas has huge amounts of fun in playing all the characters of the play, including everyone who the guys meet and who gets in their way. Director Arne Pohlmeier employs a bare-bones South African-inspired approach which facilitates this well, and it makes The Moors a largely enjoyable play to watch.
The flipside is that we don’t always get to dig deep into the massive array of meaty subjects that are raised here. The fact that those black characters are often played in RP without acknowledging their native accents, the trickle-down effect that that has had on the larger representation of black characters in theatrical institutions across the land, the harsh realities of a hostile environment on immigrants…but it is always better to be left wanting more.