Rather shamefully, I knew nothing about Charles Ignatius Sancho prior to this play.
Sancho was born into slavery, but went on to become a classical actor, a composer, an anti-slavery campaigner, property owner, and the first black British person to vote in a general election.
Paterson Joseph begins his one-man play, in a bold and unusual way. He comes out as himself and explains the driving force that made him write the play. He explains that after seeing his contemporaries get cast in costume dramas, he was keen to join them. However, he was constantly told he couldn’t, as there were no black Britons before the Windrush generation.
It’s impossible to not be drawn in by Paterson Joseph’s charm, wit and energy. He’s an extremely characteristic man. His entrance is fantastic and a great way to launch a solo show. There is no fourth wall in this production, Sancho will lock eyes with audience members, pull them up on stage, ask why they’re laughing. The play defies theatre traditions, much like Sancho’s life defies our perception of black history in Britain.
The 70 minutes fly-by, the script is sharp, witty and political. The set and sound design are both exceptional. The backdrops are wooden and help hint and Sancho’s origin. The sounds help truly immerse the audience into the period.
Joseph fully embodies Sancho. He’s clever, witty, a raconteur and ever so slightly camp.
Sancho: An act of remembrance is masterfully acted, beautifully written and reminder about the power of theatre. I left the with a greater knowledge than when I entered. Sancho’s life should be a TV series.
I hope this kick starts a re-evaluation of our history.
Sancho – An Act of Remembrance is at Wilton’s Music Hall until June 17th. For more information, click here.
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