The Forty-Year-Old Version review – razor-sharp satire

According to talent agent Archie (Peter Kim), “women of colour directors are hot right now”. Writer, director and star Radha Blank comprehends this (she won the top directing prize at Sundance). In her warm, funny and enjoyably rude start, she creates a fictionalised version of herself, slyly jabbing at the way her value is perceived. Has-been playwright Radha is pushing 40 and teaching an after-school theatre programme – “You the black Shakespeare, ma!” insists an eager student. Her midlife crisis prompts an awkward rebrand as rapper RadhaMUSprime (Miss Prime, as opposed to past it) and an unexpected romance with Bronx-based beat maker D (Oswin Benjamin), sparked by fresh creative inspiration and after-hours visits to his studio. Over the course of the day, she is ground down by rewrites of her play about gentrification, Harlem Ave, given a stage by J Whitman (Reed Birney), a liberal theatre producer obsessed with “black poverty porn”. It’s a ……

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