Lolita Chakrabarti's Red Velvet revives the forgotten but incredibly compelling story of pioneering African-American stage actor Ira Aldridge.
The play opens in Poland in 1867, where a young aspiring journalist sneaks into an elderly Aldridge's theatre dressing room where he is preparing to play King Lear.
After much pleading from the journalist, who badgers him as to why he hasn't performed on the London stage for over 30 years, the play rewinds to 1833 to reveal Aldridge's experience and the prejudice he suffered when asked to stand in for Edmund Kean.
The legendary tragedian collapsed on stage while playing Othello in Covent Garden and Aldridge puts on a tremendous and progressive performance of Othello as his replacement.
As Londoners riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, Aldridge faces racism from the critics - though some recognise his qualities - as well as his fellow actors.
Adrian Lester gives an absolutely faultless performance as Aldridge. Intense and passionate, he finds an eager foil in Charlotte Lucas's Ellen Tree who plays Desdemona to his Othello.
Yet all is not doom and gloom.
Ridiculously pompous supporting characters such as Simon Chandler's Bernard and Ryan Kiggell's Charles - Kean's son - provide the humour which leavens the seriousness of the drama.
Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham's ambitious first production at the Tricycle is refreshingly original and its subject matter certainly conforms with the theatre's reputation for excellent political theatre.
It's a story that touches upon racism, sexism and class divides as well as raising the touchy subject of tradition versus progression, even if many of the scenes are imagined.
Better yet, Lester is to play Othello next year at the National Theatre. Book your tickets now.
Runs until November 24. Box office: (020) 7328-1000.