Black is the New White by Nakkiah Lui (Sydney Theatre Company)
After Leah Purcell’s devastating reframing of white Australian myth in The Drover’s Wife, Nakkiah Lui follows through with a warm and quick-witted romantic comedy revelling in the intersection between contemporary Australian cultures. In its portrayal of a young Aboriginal lawyer who brings home her underemployed white musician boyfriend to meet the family, Black is the New White demonstrates the emergence of a powerful new social intelligence in contemporary comedy and confirms the continuing reclamation of the Australian mainstage by First Nations storytellers.
This ebullient laugh-out-loud romantic comedy is also a fiercely intelligent social satire covering race, class, family, love and everything in between. Nakkiah Lui eschews the misanthropy that often accompanies satirical drama by writing a play with deep humanist values at its heart. Black is the New White employs genre to great advantage, skewering middle class drawing room comedies and challenging stereotype at every turn. The characters are portrayed with such sharpness and warmth that they leap off the page.
This play provides great joy without losing sight of the suffering created by the systems of privilege that have brought it into being. It is buoyant, intelligent and very satisfying as it delivers a solid dose of uncomfortable truth right alongside thigh-slapping good humour. A rare and special feat from the talented Nakkiah Lui.