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Thursday, January 10, 2008.

By Belinda Otas

Images By Keith Pattison

Noughts & Crosses is Malorie Blackman’s most popular book to date. It has captured the imagination of teenagers and adults alike since it was first published. Both critics and her contemporaries praised it effusively.


Benjamin Zephaniah described it as ‘Intelligent, emotional and imaginatively wicked.’ It was described ass ‘Dramatic, moving and brave’ and ‘Flawlessly paced’ respectively by the Guardian and The Times.


Gaining media plaudits was not all Blackman got for ‘Noughts & Crosses’. It also featured on ‘The Big Read,’ a survey carried out by the BBC in search of the Nations best-loved books in 2003.  


Written specifically for teenagers, Blackman creates an alternate reality, where black and white are right and wrong, and the order of society as its known is turned on its head. Noughts and Crosses, shares an uncanny parallel to Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, exploring the myth of love and passion, issues of race and racism, injustice and hope.


It has recently been adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company, making Blackman the first Black-British Woman with that honour.  




                    Malorie Blackman      


Adapted and directed by Dominic Cooke, artistic director of the Royal Court theatre; Noughts & Crosses is a thrilling production which sends a chill down your spine.


The production dramatises the thrilling love story of Sephy and Callum, two young people kept apart by bigotry, terrorism and injustice. Sephy, a Prime Minister's daughter from the powerful Crosses, falls for rebel Callum, son of a dangerous Nought agitator. Their desire to be together threatens family loyalties and sparks a growing political crisis.


It makes you wonder and ask those questions that are often a taboo in today’s society. It is rare for a stage production to capture a novel the way this production has. I was yet to read the book before the show but I must say, I got to sum total of what the book is about without reading a page. 




     Richard Madden (Callum) & Ony Uhiara (Sephy)


Noughts & Crosses, raises a lot of issues that audiences young and old can relate to and is bound to cause a stir as it goes on tour. 




                   Jo Martin



    Tracy Ifeachor and Tyrone Huggins in rehearsal





                Ony Uhiara as Sephy









L-R: Freddy White (Jude), Jenny Ogilive (Sarah Pike) and Michelle Butterfly (Meggie)  


Noughts & Crosses is currently showing at the Civic Hall in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, until February 2, 2008. It will be followed by a UK-wide tour For more details visit: www.rsc.org.uk


Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's theatre editor. She can be reached at belindaotas@thenewblackmagazine.com


Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com






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