This is the true story of the greatest Black Briton you’ve never heard of.
ABC Merriman-Labor is an African satirist, whose dreams of becoming the greatest writer of his generation lead him on a defiant journey to the ‘horrifying heart of whiteness’: Edwardian London. Here, he wrestles with romantic ruin, financial catastrophe and severe writers’ block to compose the first ethnographic account of the White Man ever attempted. But when details of his intimate friendship with John Roberts spark rumours back in Freetown, he is faced with an impossible choice: exposure or oblivion.
This charismatic one-performer show features a kaleidoscope of characters, brought to life through object puppetry and live sound-effects. Blending an Edwardian stand-up set with a contemporary exploration of racial and sexual identity, ‘Five Years with the White Man’ is a tragicomic celebration of a long-forgotten figure, who defied the bigotry of empire.
Described as ‘hard to take your eyes off’ (The Scotsman) and ‘accomplished, spirited and genuinely hilarious’ (EdFest Magazine) - UNLEASH THE LLAMA stages ambitious, genre-defying and historically-informed comedies - inspired by the personal narratives of its collaborators and charged with intensive historical scholarship.
By foregrounding the historical and cultural heritage of different communities in its productions, Unleash the Llama encourages audiences to ask questions of our shared present and explore the complexities of British society today.
Unleash the Llama’s productions include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival sell-out shows: JEW... ish (‘delectable’, Broadway World), a twisted millennial romcom co-written by Saul Boyer and Poppy Damon (Gilded Balloon/Kings Head Theatre); and MAN OF ONE HUNDRED FACES by Saul Boyer, exploring espionage during the Russian Revolution (Gilded Balloon/Kings Head Theatre). This show was recently listed in The Guardian’s "Readers’ Favourite Stage Shows of 2022".
Five Years with the White Man stars Joseph Akubeze. Joseph has most recently been in the role of ‘Hugo’ in the Netflix show THE BASTARD SON & THE DEVIL HIMSELF, directed by Colm McCarthy and has recently finished shooting a role in the Hulu series BLACK CAKE. Joseph has previously worked on the hit show BRIDGERTON (dir. Tom Verica); the BBC’s ILL BEHAVIOUR; TED LASSO; and Vincenzo Natali’s THE PERIPHERAL for Amazon Studios. Film credits include Disney’s CRUELLA; Ben Bond’s DRIFTERS (Creative England); Anthony Byrne’s IN DARKNESS; and Romola Garai’s debut feature OUTSIDE (Stigma Films).
Publicity photographs are by Mark Senior and feature Eloka Obi.
Press & Reviews
Praise for Previous Work:
The List - ★★★★★ - ‘a fearless display of physicality that shape-shifts from ludicrous tomfoolery to raw menace’ (for ‘BLEED’ - Sam Rayner as Movement Director)
The Guardian - ★★★★★ - ‘this show’s razzle-dazzle song-and-dance opener is intensely funny [and] utterly sublime’ (for ‘SHEEPS: Live & Loud’ - Sam Rayner as Movement Director)
Within Her Words - ★★★★★ - 'I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed quite so much at a piece of theatre.' (for 'JEW...ish' - Saul Boyer as Writer)
The Prickle - ★★★★★ - 'Though historical research comes across in every line...make no mistake: the show is hilarious, and probably the best one-man play you will see at the Edinburgh Fringe.' (for 'Man of 100 Faces' - Saul Boyer as Writer)
London West End Theatre Tickets - ★★★★ - 'JEW…ish is a contemporary gem that deftly and delightfully delineates the resulting comic fault lines.' (for 'JEW...ish' - Saul Boyer as Writer)
The Scotsman - ★★★★ - ‘physical theatre at its most immaculate’ (for 'The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much' - Sam Rayner as Co-Director)
Cast & Creative Team ABC Merriman-Labor: JOSEPH AKUBEZE
Concept by: ELOKA OBI, SAUL BOYER & SAM RAYNER
Writers: ELOKA OBI & SAUL BOYER
Director & Dramaturg: SAM RAYNER
Associate Director: NEBIU SAMUEL
Lighting Designer: CATJA HAMILTON
Sound Designer: FREDERICK WAXMAN