The play – a mother’s perspective about her mixed-race son – is poignantly written without being overly sentimental. It tells the story of Mischa, a talented, loving 19-year-old who struggled with his identity before being tragically killed in a police chase in 2005 during a bungled burglary. The story tracks his relationship with his loving mother, his absent father, his potential at school before he became just another statistic of self-fulfilling prophecy – another black boy getting expelled. He started running with the wrong crowd, and although he managed to get his head up with a Performing Arts course and working as a mechanic, ultimately he got dragged back into trouble which led to his life being tragically taken.
This is a multimedia performance, mainly told through dance and the powerful voiceover (which is also subtitled, for the hard of hearing), and songs which were written by the cast themselves – the raps in particular are spot on. The dances are powerful, moving, flowing, and the voiceovers are at times powerful, compelling, heartbreaking. There is plenty here to challenge us all – how society fails to recognise the potential of young people and drives them into making the wrong choices through lack of opportunities and craving for social status, the relationships between black and white people and their mixed-race offspring (a powerful dialogue from an old Katherine Hepburn movie is played – “well we never added that she should never fall in love with a coloured man”) – and the beauty of the dance flowing in front of a blue background light is enchanting.
The most obvious emotion flowing through this story is that of the love between a mother and her son – her beautiful brown boy. Such a poignant portrayal of their close bond was special to see – without getting drawn into my personal stuff too much, the play struck a lot of chords with me. I felt almost nauseous at times during the play with the emotion of it all, and my heart definitely broke a little bit for Mischa when I realised it was a tragically true story. The numbing scene of a mother leaning over her beautiful boys’s coffin, and the father doing the same – the mother crying for the things they had done together, and the father crying for the things they hadn’t.
The play – only one hour long and without an interval, seemed to last for a lifetime. It was powerful and packed with emotion. The audience sat in awe of the entire performance and packed out the Circle Bar for the post-show talk – this is when we got to hear the fact that it was a totally true story created by ChickenShed actually during the time of Mischa’s inquest. Directed by Mischa’s auntie, and with his character being played by one of his real-life friends, this is a powerful true story that just has to be told – I would recommend this to any youth groups or anyone who knows a young person struggling with their identity, or parents struggling to find the right paths with their teenagers. I cannot recommend this play highly enough – you must seek it out and see it.
RIP Mischa – you have been loved.
I gave my son an extra big hug and kiss when I got home tonight.