Sara Keating on theatre: Jacobs-Jenkins breathes new life into Boucicault’s period piece

A lengthy but lively adaptation of an 1859 Dion Boucicault play is an arresting confrontation with political prejudices both past and present

Patrick Martins as Branden Jacobs-Jenkins in An Octoroon at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Picture: Ros Kavanagh

In the opening moments of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s audacious, anarchic, invigorating play An Octoroon, a version of the writer addresses us directly. Naked on the Abbey Theatre’s stage but for a pair of tight briefs, Jacobs-Jenkins (played by Patrick Martins) recounts an intimate conversation with his therapist, who is helping him to decide what kind of man he will be.

“I think you hate white people,” the counsellor suggests, but Jacobs-Jenkins refutes this theory. “I am ...