Jillian Richardson’s The Virtue of Doubt is fresh and different yet harnesses poetry and playwriting with the skill of the old greats. Richardson’s words on love and family were Shakespearean in their poeticism and rhythm. Whilst Avaricia’s words put me in mind of Euripides’ Medea and Beloved recalled Sophocles’ Antigone. Richardson’s storytelling is stunning.
A play in five acts oozing poetry, I could only marvel at the familiar yet ingenious structure of The Virtue of Doubt. Drawing upon the roots of tragedy, Richardson’s chorus of Nubian Sirens frames this story of enslavement, freedom, grief, love, growth and ancestry.
“We will voyage within past, present and future pains and pleasures, / Remembering this precarious journey is one to be most treasured.”Prologue, Jillian Richardson
With a host of characters, such as Ancestor, Outsider, and Creator, Richardson’s tale is one for the here and now as she masterfully explores and dismantles structures of oppression. Richardson explores belonging and the sense of otherness created by racist institutions and inequity. Then, she gives voice to the future – to the men, women, and everybody else who will seek to sing freedom from societal norms and conformity from the top of their lungs.
“i’m a diamond girl with platinum thighs / and amethyst insides / my heart is a black pearl / my emerald eyes crave the sky”Act 5, Scene 5: Emerge, Jillian Richardson
Thus, even with roots in tragedy, The Virtue of Doubt is a re-write of our history; a journey which culminates in fierce acceptance and the desire to live freely and honestly in your truth.
“Don’t let them steal that from you. / Don’t let yourself forget.”Act 5, Scene 3: Love Letters, Jillian Richardson
The Virtue of Doubt is a masterpiece.