I arrived at the Bunker Theatre a hollow husk with very little left to give, but as these are the final weeks that we have The Bunker before it closes, I was determined to make it in for ‘I am (not) Kanye West’ written and performed by Natasha Brown. I laughed so hard, I should have left even more exhausted, but instead I was revitalised. This is such a vibrant, powerful, and hilarious one-woman show.
Natasha Brown is phenomenal. Her comic timing is pitch perfect, and she has an amazing ability to transform into the most vivid array of different characters. With ‘I am (not) Kanye West’ Brown takes us into the power hungry, hotbed of controversy that is student politics. Arriving at university a naive drama student, Tash is soon targeted by the opportunistic Student Body President, who realises that a black, queer woman ticks all the boxes needed to make her a great choice to run as Vice President. Reluctant at first, a pair of Kanye West style magical glasses give her the ability to find her voice, and unlock her political rage.
What Natasha Brown has so successfully created with ‘I am (not) Kanye West’ is a biting satire of politics, and how so called “progressive” bodies and organisations only seem to care about their own narrow issues. At first when she confronts this insular thinking, she is heralded as a powerful new voice, but problems arise as she starts to be seen as too confronting and radical. A little change is acceptable, but by relentlessly calling out the discrimination rife within these groups, the tide of popular opinion starts to shift. So instead of being empowered by belonging to multiple different oppressed groups, Tash discovers that ultimately none of them represent, or even care, about her whole identity.
The power of this play lies in showing how self-limiting it is that these groups are fighting each other for political scraps. Ultimately ‘I am (not) Kanye West” shows that being divided, and fighting against each other, is one of the biggest barriers to true seismic change.
Abigail Sewell’s direction unlocks the energy of the piece, and brings out an absolute masterclass performance by Natasha Brown.
I can not recommend this show highly enough. The Bunker was buzzing and there was a big audience tonight, so I’d book quickly to avoid disappointment. ‘I am (not) Kanye West’ runs until Saturday 7th March.