Adapted from a very popular web series and co-written by its star Adjani Salmon along with Ali Hughes, Dreaming Whilst Black is an extremely engaging affair as Kwabena (Salmon) dreams of making it big in the film industry but struggles to get anyone to read his debut script. Working as a recruitment agent in the meantime we’re given a number of his daydreams as he imagines what life might be like if he were luckier, and perhaps a little more confident too.
Beginning with a beautifully shot sequence as a camera floats through a film set, unfortunately for Kwabena it’s nothing but a daydream and his day job is far drabber. It does allow for some sharply written observations on the mistakes people make while applying for work though, and there’s a very funny joke concerning the effect one missed comma can have, while his colleagues are three dimensional even if they don’t exactly represent the best humanity has to offer.
Tackling the casual racism Kwabena has to deal with on a daily basis is another large aspect of the show, and a combination of the very funny and the very painful. The most striking moments involve a colleague asking for his advice over a forthcoming date, with the pay off involving the Oscar winning Green Book being a laugh out loud moment, while Kwabena being asked to sing karaoke on stage but only utter one word is bleak but also powerful, and it’s a rare creation that can also be very funny while making an important point.
It’s a fantastic central performance from Salmon who definitely has the makings of a leading man, and the supporting cast are on fine form too, with Dani Moseley’s Amy especially notable. The writing is sharp and incisive throughout, it’s an impressively taut script without a single moment of filler within the running time, and it’s also remarkable on the direction front too as Sebastian Thiel has made this look like a film rather than a tv show.
There’s a slight issue that with a number of fake out dreams we can never be completely sure if what we’re seeing is actually happening, but thankfully while our hero does occasionally fuck up or fail it ends on an optimistic note, suggesting that his dreams may come to fruition sooner rather than later. I hope we get to see that take place too as this is an extremely strong and captivating effort with characters it would be an awful shame not to see a lot more of.
You can watch Dreaming Whilst Black on BBC iPlayer here.