Sunday 20th March at 7.30pm, Grange Hall, R-on-T
Call Mr Robeson – A Life With Songs
Suitable for aged 12+
A’ Live & Local’ touring scheme production sponsored by Arts Council England, Notts County Council & Rushcliffe Borough Council.
Review by Martin Culshaw
On the face of it, this performance by Tayo Aluko seemed likely to be a fairly ‘light’ presentation of the life and times of Paul Robeson, interspersed with some of his songs. Being somewhat younger than the late singer, I was unaware of the depth and leaning of his politics and the range of his talents as a lawyer, American footballer and straight actor, as well as a singer. But I was most ignorant of the way in which white American politicians treated him and made him one of the victims of the dreadful McCarthyite period in the 1940s and ‘50s. At a time when immigrants to Britain are starting to be vilified as the Syrian war drags on and the EU referendum debate intensifies, it was good to be reminded of how not to treat people who are ‘different.’
After a slightly slow start Tayo put on a great one-man show that gradually ramped up the horrors to which Robeson was subjected while recognising some of his weaknesses. The show included both some of Robeson’s well known songs and lesser known ones for which … … provided excellent piano accompaniment. At the end of the show Tayo took part in a lively question and answer session that, unsurprisingly, focussed on whether racial awareness in the USA had improved since Robeson’s time.
A thought-provoking and excellently performed show.