Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Misty by Arinze Kene (Theatre Review) Misty by Arinze Kene (Theatre Review)
Misty by Arinze Kene (Theatre Review)

I never was a big fan of poetry, dance and one ‘person’ plays, having seen so many dull ones in my time. So I was filled with trepidation at the prospect of seeing Arinze Kene’s ‘Misty’, despite its numerous rave review. Verdict? Mind blowing!! This is theatre at it should be, bold, challenging and compelling.


Over two hours, He weaves in and out of a tale about an angry urban young man who attacks a drunk on a night bus leaving him fighting for his life. He then uses his wits and safe houses to avoid capture by the pursuing police whilst at the same time trying to maintain a normal relationship with his daughter and girlfriend.


Using a mix of performance poetry, physical theatre, comedy and drama, he masterfully intertwines several poignant issues facing society and theatre today. Gentrification makes him very angry. So much so that he likens the incoming pervasive ‘trust fund’ hipsters as evil ‘viruses’ coming to infect and ultimately stifle the life out of the local ‘blood cells’.


Cleverly using video backdrops of conversations with himself and friends he tackles the thorny issue of what is a ‘black play’ head on. Is it black because it has black actors or written is by a black playwright? He challenges the audience, especially the whites attendees to ponder as to why they watch such productions. Are they feasting on ‘black trauma’ to rid themselves of their guilt?


However it’s when he’s using his immense command of spoken word in scenes like ‘Apparently’ a story about a girl from a strict upbringing who becomes the local whore and ‘Kege’ in which he’s been chased by the police that the brilliance of his story telling really shines through. His timing and delivery is faultless, superb and totally enthralling.


In the second half, Arinze really ups the ante. Issues are spat out fast and furiously. He prowls the stage like a caged black panther, muscle bound, coiled and ready to explode on society. From never forgetting injustices of Grenfell, through keeping the spirit of Black Lives Matters alive to taking back the community from the invading ‘trustafarians’, he crashes through them with a rage and clarity that has to be seen to be experienced.


With support from musicians Shiloh Cole and Adrian McLeod, brooding lighting and sound design, the sharply observed direction of Omar Elerian this is a fine example of the performance-poet narrative.


At the end we’re left excited and exhausted as the sweat dripped, heavy breathing Arinze is himself. He puts his all into his work and we also reciprocate by totally committing mind, soul and body into his Herculean performance.


I urge you to see this production. Whether you have to sell stuff on Ebay, on the streets or Sphock, get a ticket for what is no doubt in my mind the hottest ticket in town.


Misty, Till 17 Nov 2018, Tralfalgar Studios, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY, For details and tickets https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/misty/trafalgar-studios/

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