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BWW Review: MONSTERS AND MEN, Sky Go

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BWW Review: MONSTERS AND MEN, Sky Go

BWW Review: MONSTERS AND MEN, Sky GoWith a full return to our beloved live theatre still some way off, BWW will bring you reviews of shows that have a connection to our much-missed world. Monsters and Men felt like a statement in 2018 - now it feels like a warning. It stars Hamilton's John Laurens and Peggy Schuyler, Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas Jones.

I recall sitting in a cinema a couple of years ago and watching Reinaldo Marcus Green's portrait of Black Lives not Mattering and thinking, "This is the truth". That I, a comfortable middle-aged white man, could so readily draw that conclusion is a testament to the sledgehammer impact of so many real incidents of police killings (especially, but not exclusively, in the USA) and to the quality of the film, art (as it does) rising above misery.

So an "important" film is now more important, but such terms can damn with faint praise - not so in this case. We're pitched into The City, its kaleidoscope of cultures, generations and interests butting up against each other, sometimes resulting in the blooming of love, but sometimes sparking flames that can kindle an inferno. It's wonderful film-making, the three interlocking stories (all with a 21st century Hill Street Blues feel) beautifully written and acted.

John David Washington plays the career cop torn between his own sense of how black people are treated by his fellow officers and a commitment to an organisational culture that fiercely looks after its own. In a very powerful sequence, we see exactly where that instinct to stand together is rooted, a facile condemnation avoided by the gut-punch of real life and death.

Hamilton alumni, Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas Jones, are a couple caught up in the backwash of a police killing paying a price for telling the truth - it's genuinely uncomfortable to find yourself inwardly advising them to do a right thing and, a minute later, not to do a right thing. (The conclusion that there's is no "the right thing" is the only one that makes sense in a society stacked against them).

Soon we're with a gifted young baseballer, Zyrick (Kelvin Harrison Jr., the standout performance in a film not short of super work) whose father is living vicariously through the glory and money that will come his son's way. But Zyrick's political consciousness is growing and soon he faces a decision about where his priorities lie and whether they can ever be accommodated in the same life.

The stories career along at the speed of a subway train, barely giving a moment for the dilemmas so skilfully set up to be mentally processed before another comes along to knock you off balance. That so many of these challenges do not apply to me nor to my two boys around Zyrick's age, is proof that the phrase "white privilege" is no empty slogan.

Monsters and Men is available on Sky Go.


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From This Author Gary Naylor