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Review: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 February 2017

The cast of The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds her Chameleon Skin at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

The cast of The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds her Chameleon Skin at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Copyright Scott Rylander 2017

This is a lively and at times hilarious musical full of energy, wit and significance.

In The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, young Viveca Stanton lives up to her nickname - Bubbly - fizzing with enthhusiasm as she grows up in 1960s Los Angeles, but troubled by the racial violence she sees around her.

Dreaming of becoming “something”, but fearful of the treatment of African-Americans as she grows up in 1960s Los Angeles, Viveca, playfully performed by Karis Jack, turns inwards on herself, seeking refuge in a fantasy world inspired by her white doll Chitty Chatty.

As Viveca’s awareness of the divided world she grows up increases, with police intimidation disturbing her all the more on a walk home with childhood friend Gregory, so do her attempts to conceal her real identity.

Against this backdrop of racial tension, writer and lyricist Kirsten Childs weaves in wonderfully evocative sequences of music and song with high-school dance “The Skate” recalling 1970s hit musical “Grease” with an awkward Viveca being advised to join in by one of the cooler kids, telling her, “If you find your groove, you’ll find your voice”.

Under Josette Bushell-Mingo’s skilful direction, Mykal Rand’s stunning choreography and a number of lightning-quick costume changes, the cast evoke a turbulent and exciting time in US history.

Play is on now until March 1 at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Tickets from £12. Visit stratfordeast.com

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