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Theatre Review Black-and-white brilliance

David Judge tells a deeply affecting story of his mixed-race experience in SparkPlug, says PAUL FOLEY

 

SparkPlug
HOME, Manchester/Touring

 

HE’S got two dads. One white, the other black. His white dad gave him love and security, his black gave him his ethnicity.

 

In this brilliant new one-man show, Mancunian playwright David Judge explores the essence of a black man’s story and who has the right to tell it.

 

Dave is from Wythenshawe, he’s hard and his life is complete when he slips behind the wheel of his beloved Ford Capri, Rod Stewart gently playing on the tape deck.

 

It’s 1983 and Dave’s world is about to change. He’s fallen for his sister’s mate Joanne but the problem is she’s about to have a baby and he’s not the father.

 

The other complicating factor is that Dave and Joanne are white but little David is mixed race. Will Dave cope?

 

It wont be easy — his Irish mum is not amused and makes her feelings clear. Racism, homophobia, poverty, anger and fear stalk the young family at every turn.

 

Judge is a master storyteller and his stage presence is spellbinding. What makes this such a great play is his command and love of language.

 

His staccato delivery and poetic profanity breathe life into his multiple characters and, at one point, when everything is running out of control, Dave spits out a deluge of rap-like utterances which are astonishing and create genuine fear for his welfare.

 

Katie Scott’s wonderful set consists of a car-shaped Meccano construction which, over the course of 80 minutes, Judge inhabits as he climbs, crawls and twists within the iron structure.

 

Based on autobiographical events, Dave’s story — funny, frequently sad but always engaging — is that of a complex and bewildering path through life but his deep and passionate love for a son that’s not his own overcomes adversity.

 

This is heartbreaking yet inspirational stuff.

 

Tours nationally until April 13. details: boxoftrickstheatre.co.uk.

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