'Death Never Used to Be for the Young': Grieving Teenage Murder in debbie tucker green's random

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debbie tucker green is the most high-profile Black British woman playwright of the first decade of the twenty-first century, with productions of her plays seen at mainstream London venues including Hampstead Theatre, Royal Court, Soho Theatre and Young Vic. Her innovative voice moves away from the explicit concerns with identity and diaspora of predecessors from the 1980s and 1990s, to address issues of global significance in the world today. These include poverty, child soldiers and the AIDS crisis in Africa, female sex tourism, domestic violence, sexual abuse and incest. This article explores how random (Royal Court, 2008) stages a poignant response to the epidemic of teenage knife murders in London in 2007 and 2008. Using analysis of the text, the production and theatre critics' reactions, I demonstrate how tucker green's focus on the grief of a family affected by the murder of a child provides a unique perspective distinct from representations of similar themes in plays by black British male playwrights. random is narrated primarily through the perspectives of the black female characters, epitomising tucker green's tendency to place (black) women at the centre of plays that deal with urgent themes in the contemporary world. I argue that, whilst women's perspectives are paramount, the narratives also incorporate strategies that imply a broad collective social responsibility for eradicating violence and abuse, and show how her unique writing style foregrounds her successful presence in mainstream contemporary British theatre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-309
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2009


  • Black women; family; the Front Room; grief; solo performance; trauma; violence

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