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Choir Boy | Bristol Old Vic

Choir Boy is a religiously hilarious and heart wrenching show that puts you in the feels. Having had its premiere in 2012, Choir Boy is back in the UK and one not to be missed during its limited four-week run. Choir Boy tells the story of a young gifted singer Pharus, who is portrayed by Terique Jarrett. In this story, we learn that Pharus has earned his spot as soloist in the acapella choir at his all boy school.

Pharus wants nothing more but to please those around him and to sing the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys school song at graduation and will let nothing stand in the way of him receiving that moment. What makes Pharus’ story more layered is that he is trying to navigate this while being a young, black, and queer man at an all boy school. Phaurs ends up being bullied by one of the students at school and we see a shift in the way his pride is affected by this. We, as the audience, are taken on quite the journey as we see these boys navigate through what it means to be in brotherhood, what it means to be spiritual, and what it means to have a sense of belonging. Jarrett does a fantastic job embodying the spirit of Pharus taking you on an emotional journey. He truly takes on the hurt, anger, and playfulness Pharus has and exudes that onto the audience. 

Michael Ahokma-Lindsay (David), Khalid Daley (JR), Jyuddah Jaymes (AJ) and Alistair Nwachukwu (Bobby) gave performances that left a major impression not only in your mind, but in your hearts as well. Their skill and technique gave so much life to the characters that they embodied. You could tell that they were not just playing into brotherhood for the audience, but in real life too - they worked and meshed so well together.

Tarell Alvin McCraney’s writing in Choir Boy does a phenomenal job in making you as the witness feel so many emotions throughout the play. It takes you to church with how many different spirituals are woven through the fabric of the script. Allows you to reflect on songs you learned from family members that hold a special place in your heart. It gives space for you to feel sympathy for each character's individual story.

Most importantly, it leaves you wanting to reflect on how well you love and support not only those around you, but yourself. With the help of director Nancy Medina, the vision of this script truly comes to life in a manner that leaves you wanting more. The subtleness of each character's movement to the staging of each lesson gives you a sense of being invited into the story. Her leadership in this production gives space for each actor to truly appreciate their characters and bring them to life. 

The set, lightning, and musical design of Choir Boy is very minimal. Though these elements are minimal, they have a strong ability to strength the integrity and beautifulness of this play. Simisola Majekodunni (Lighting Designer), Donato Wharton (Sound Design & Composer), and Max Johns (Set & Costume Designer) have done a great job working together to transport you to this preparatory school as if you were a student experiencing what these characters are experiencing. This allows the actors to become one with the smaller set pieces in moving them in and out and striking the scenes without ever drifting away from the text.

This play is one that you should make a point in going to see as it is truly something unique, special, and well developed. Be sure to look out for future developments of what the play can turn into. A West End transfer would be ideal. Choir Boy is currently playing at Bristol Old Vic until 11th November. Get your tickets before they close as you will not be disappointed. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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