Typical is a stage film about the 1998 death of Christopher Alder while in police custody. Starring actor Richard Blackwood, the messages behind the production are still as relevant today as they were more than 20 years ago.
The one-man film adaptation of Typical is a raw and emotive film that takes a hard look at how systematic racism and stereotypes can be an extremely damaging part of society. The film is a re-enactment of former army paratrooper, Christopher Alder’s final moments before he died in police custody after being arrested at a hospital, following an assault that took place against him.
The film is a tribute and dedication to, “all those who have died because of systematic racism.” The heart-breaking production ends with an all-black screen, followed by twenty-six names of Black individuals who were killed at the hands of police in the UK.
The film is extremely topical and offers a timely exploration of institutionalised racism within society.
“Richard Blackwood reprised his role from the 2019 play Typical to this film version, starring as Christopher Alder.”
The killing of George Floyd last year sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the world. This was revolutionary, but conversations about racism still need to be had if we want to see real change. Films like Typical start these conversations and is exactly what the award-winning playwright, Ryan Calais Cameron and director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour envisioned for the film.
Cameron, who was inspired to write the play based on his own experiences says: “Typical is a slice of our history, that I hope gives insight, education and desire for a better future.”
Hollyoaks regular and former EastEnders star Richard Blackwood reprised his role from the 2019 play Typical to this film version, starring as Christopher Alder. Though this film is moving and sensitive, it brings humanity to Alder in a funny, touching and likeable way.
The film is a one-man show, so Blackwood snaps in and out of characters in outstanding performances to portray the different characters that Alder meets. From ‘Becky’ the white woman he meets in a club to the police officers responsible for his death.
Alder is depicted as a relatable and hilarious everyman who is proudly Black, reminding us of the men we already know in our lives. Alder’s thought process is shared with us as he navigates through life as a single working father of two. His thoughts are presented out loud and are eccentric and identifiable, in other words he is ‘typical’. A humorous moment is where he debates the pronunciation of ‘plantain.’ A debate we have had with at least one person in our lives.
Blackwood’s performance is in first-person monologue with minimalistic and simplistic props and set. This allowed us to imagine ourselves in Alder’s position, to position our own houses and workplaces within the set.
“Typical was an emotional rollercoaster, one minute you will be laughing out loud and the next you will be reaching for the tissue box.”
The soundtrack featured much-loved classics such as Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and Shabba Ranks’ “Ting-A-Ling.” This gave the film a personal touch and a sense of realism. The theatrical choices made us feel like we personally knew Alder, like a father or a brother.
This depiction makes the film even more heart-wrenching when we witness Alder’s death at the end, we are reminded that the people who fall short of systemic racism are our brothers, fathers, friends or family members.
Typical was an emotional rollercoaster, one minute you will be laughing out loud and the next you will be reaching for the tissue box. This is a gripping and emotional production that will hopefully allow people to think and talk about the consequences of institutionalised racism that is so normalised within British society.
Typical is available online via Soho Theatre On Demand until 31 March.