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The Day I Became Black

The ramifications of having a black father and a white mother are explored by young comedian Bill Posley in this uneven mix of stand-up and confessional.

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Bill Posley in his autobiographical one man-show “The Day I Became Black” (Photo credit: Daniel J. Sliwa)


Darryl Reilly, Critic

A searing epiphany at The Day I Became Black’s climax redeems its uneven mixture of confessional and stand-up. The show is written and performed by the engaging biracial young comedian and actor Bill Posley. During 80 cluttered minutes we sketchily learn about his stern though supportive African-American father and Caucasian mother of Kentucky “white trash” origin. The Boston-reared Mr. Posley charts the complexities of his racial background due to his black appearance. Navigating through society, dating women and interacting with the police are concretely explored. That Posley is an Iraq War veteran is mentioned only in passing.

“Being white means never having to think about it” is a James Baldwin quote that is projected during the presentation and is at The Day I Became Black’s core. A personal, historical and vivid exploration of race relations in the United States is the goal here. Unfortunately, it goes off on tangents.

“Hey, how’s everyone doing?” begins Posley following a video compilation including interviews with biracial people shown on a raised television set which gets a lot of use. His opening remarks signify the distracting comedy club tone as do periodic references to “the show.” There’s basic standup jokes, exaggerated character voices, engaging the audience directly and simulated game show bits where he roams through the auditorium. The piece’s dramatic achievements are diluted by the tiresome diversions. Posley appears to aspire to emulate the depth of John Leguizamo’s acclaimed solo shows but veers off into superficial shtick.

Bill Posley in his autobiographical one man-show “The Day I Became Black” (Photo credit: Daniel J. Sliwa)

“I got kicked out of my gospel choir for being tone deaf.” The jokes are often well-crafted, wonderfully tossed off and there’s a humorous sequence about trying to behave like a black porn star. However, the conventional funny business doesn’t fully connect to the serious tale Posley is ultimately telling.  The show’s title comes from a harrowing incident that is suspensefully reenacted and showcases Posley’s dramatic talents.

The Day I Became Black is performed downstairs at the Soho Playhouse’s bar that is crammed with seats. The stage is extremely small and so the environment really is that of a comedy club; Polsey skillfully adlibbed when a patron’s phone rang.  Sober portions such as a montage of black people getting shot by police contrasts starkly with the prevalent jokey atmosphere.

Director Bente Engelstoft positions Posley with as much verisimilitude as possible leading to a smooth presentation accompanied by adept technical elements. The lighting, sound and video design all achieve a low-tech theatricality.

Bill Posley has a winning presence, a charming delivery and is an accomplished storyteller. These attributes enrich the misconceived The Day I Became Black.

The Day I Became Black (extended through May 26, 2019 on the MainStage)

SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-691-1555 or visit

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

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