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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 30,900
Location: Long Island, New York

22 Jul 2022, 9:24 am

The Darkest Part of the Night review – a powerful portrayal of autism and prejudice

This drama about family, race and autism opens in a whirl of disorientation. A character clutches a handbag and won’t let go, another tries to prise it away in anger and a girl runs on to the stage then disappears again. Scenes change quickly and a large circular floor, with vinyl record design by Jean Chan, revolves at the centre to snatches of music.

The discombobulations effectively take us into the life and mind of Dwight (Lee Phillips), whose autism is not diagnosed for some of his childhood. Phillips switches between playing 11-year-old Dwight, growing up with his Black British family in Leeds, to a grown man in the present day contending with his jumble of memories.

Zodwa Nyoni’s hard-hitting play is framed by a funeral in the present, and a series of events in 1981 when Dwight’s autism has yet to be identified or understood. Imaginatively directed by Nancy Medina, this play is a study of autism in an era of open racial hostility, from police prejudice to biases within social services. While we are starting to see more plays about autism, it is far rarer to see its intersections with race and family, as we see dramatised here to powerful effect.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman