Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018


Hugh Kapernaros

at 23:22 on 17th Aug 2018



It’s hard not to gush about this one. 'Dominoes' is, put simply, exciting. Capturing the conversations reverberating across the UK about the difficult legacy of slavery, Phoebe McIntosh’s solo show is thought-provoking, innovative and powerfully 21st century.

“Why are you acting so white Layla?” Questions of identity and race echo throughout the performance, as McIntosh plays half-Scottish, half-Jamaican Layla; exploring the white-washing of the self, what it means to “pass” in the modern day and how to deal with a fiancé who’s ancestry was responsible for the subjugation of her own. Layla confronts the tensions of her own racial identity, tied to legacies of both slaveowners and the Windrush generation - in many ways representative of a new, post-racial generation trying to come to terms with the pains of the past.

These heavy social issues are executed creatively and empathetically. McIntosh acts out all sides of the debate - a Jamaican uncle, an indignant fiancé, a judgemental best friend and a conflicted central character. Sharp writing allows these ideas to be conveyed both subtly and powerfully, anchored by the actress’ dedicated and energetic performance.

The apt soundtrack jumped from Single Ladies to reggae dub, atmospheric lighting changed the minimal set from a wine bar to a church confessional booth. While not incorporated seamlessly, the technological elements of the show were almost superfluous - outshone by the overall sophistication of the performance.

'Dominoes' felt new, it felt progressive. It felt like it was at the spearhead of contemporary dialogues driven by young people determined to deal with history in a new way, creating a world they’re proud to call their own. I said it was hard not to gush, and truth be told, I haven’t tried hard not to. This is a seriously clever show; one that I recommend seeing not only for topical subject matter, but for a confident performer with great stage presence and refreshing talent.


Lottie Hayton

at 10:35 on 18th Aug 2018



This one-woman show has the audience riveted from the outset. Written and performed by Phoebe McIntosh, 'Dominoes' tells the story of the mixed race Layla McKinnon’s discovery that her husband-to-be, Andy, has the same surname as her because his ancestors owned hers as slaves.

Grappling with the responses of friends and family – especially her Jamaican grandfather with whom she plays dominoes every Saturday – Phoebe depicts Layla’s struggle to work out where she fits.

Some characters, especially Layla’s friend Laura, are shown pressing the need to pick a side against the background of police brutality in America and the Black Lives Matter movement. Others, however, including Layla herself, are more conflicted. Indeed, this piece is so relatable because of its refusal to strongly adhere to one side or the other. As Layla says, she is a domino, whose race identity is in flux.

'Dominoes' ability to engage a mostly white audience indicated its power. It is an inclusive and understanding exploration of racial issues and discrimination. Furthermore, by encouraging the audience’s own self-reflection, through the question ‘who am I’, it makes a powerful statement about the ability of each person to shape and decide their identity for themselves.

Simple staging and lighting was put to good effect in this piece. A wedding dress, hanging in the corner of the stage for much of the show, lent a powerful reminder of the anxieties gripping Layla. Phoebe McIntosh’s persuasive acting gave a forceful energy to all the characters and her transitions from anger, to agitation, to confusion took the audience with her on her emotional journey of self-discovery.

Phoebe, and the director Stephen Wrentmore, must be congratulated for carving 'Dominoes' such a subtle and intelligent story, which casts familiar issues in a new light, and gives a deeply personal perspective to issues of race, gender and identity.


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