The Alexandra Theatre – until 19th November 2022
Reviewed by Emily Cliff
The effect Noughts and Crosses has on its audience is an odd one. On the one hand, the story makes you think about what life would be like in an alternate dystopian society not so subtly using outdated laws, behaviours and attitudes that pre-date the civil rights movement in 1960s America. However, on the other hand, you are left feeling genuinely baffled by the poor execution of what could have been a fantastic story with fantastic potential.
Surrounded by a fantastic set and supported by a brilliant cast, the show had some truly great moments. In a segregated society where the Crosses (darker-skinned people) are the majority in charge, Noughts (lighter-skinned people) are left fighting prejudice and fighting for equality amongst all. Effie Ansah portrayed Sephy excellently, showing the hope of wanting a more inclusive future which can be seen in younger generations in today’s society. Playing alongside Ansah was James Arden, equally as talented showing the struggle of living in a society that isn’t inclusive, and the detrimental effect that can have on your mental health.
Using Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as a blueprint, it is wholly unfortunate the story didn’t follow in the footsteps of its inspiration. The story for the most part was clunky, dragging and taking far too long to address storylines that could have easily been cut without making a difference to the show as a whole whatsoever. The show runs at a whopping 2 hours and 25 minutes, however, the important and relevant parts of this show could have easily made this an 80-minute show. Using reverse racism in any piece of art can be hard to pull off, however when done correctly and respectfully it can be incredibly educational, the potential was there with Noughts and Crosses, but some parts of this show were just written in very bad taste.
The journey to the interval seemed to take forever with extremely poor pacing and often felt like pulling teeth and the second half seemed to try and jam many storylines into an extremely short space which made for an extremely confusing performance.
Aside from this shows many faults, the cast and the set were fantastic and it is such a shame they were let down by such poor writing and pacing in this story. This play had the potential to be truly groundbreaking and fantastic. With a shorter run time and more succinct writing and pacing, this play would be brilliant, unfortunately, we did not see that tonight.