‘Fairview’ review – A blistering takedown of perceptions

The award-winning race drama from Jackie Sibbles Drury subverts with a sharp intensity – ★★★★

Fairview is a unique theatrical experience – the word ‘experience’ perhaps being overused in theatre reviews (including my own), but it is the best word to describe director Nadia Latif’s extraordinary staging of Sibbles Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winning script.

It is likely frustrating to those who haven’t seen it that the play’s plot cannot be described or reviewed in detail. For a show billed as “an interrogation of our subtly destructive preconceptions”, audiences must enter without any at all. Instead, it is what is built up, destroyed and challenged during the performance itself which is so remarkable about this production. A family’s preparation for dinner becomes so much more, and its progression excellently executed by a strong cast.

People long talk of plays which prompt a conversation, and Fairview blows the door right open on its subject matter with the assertiveness it rightly requires. Latif creates a pace which is unsettling and overwhelming, which is exactly what it needs to be. While it did mean that it took another read of the playtext to recognise a significant plot point, it leaves the audience with so much to unpack in their own time.

In turn, Fairview is a story which isn’t confined to the stage, the wider auditorium or indeed the 90-minute running time, but is instead one which is completely transcendental – a striking theatrical rarity.

Fairview is now playing at the Young Vic Theatre until 23 January.

Production Images: Marc Brenner.

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