Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

White Teeth (Theatre Review) White Teeth (Theatre Review)
White Teeth (Theatre Review)

Based on Zadie Smith’s international bestseller, White Teeth is a feel good musical about a corner of north-west London (Kilburn), where there’s much going beneath the warm fuzzy exterior than appears.


Told in a series of flashback by Irie Jones (Ayesha Antoine) and the High Street’s resident lovable ‘bag lady’, played with much gusto by Michelle Austin, it’s a hilarious and often touching tale of two families, three generations, dark secrets, ex-Nazi’s, stuck up middle class West Hampsteadians and an innocent brown mouse that could be the saving of the world.


The production moves at a rapid pace, as the energetic cast pack in as much of the original story as possible. Dance routines and set scenes come fast and furious as the ensemble speed through the story-line. Starting on the battlefields of Europe, the action moves swiftly through the melting pot that’s Kilburn ending in the rarefied settings of a Whitehall conference hall.


Along the way we meet indecisive Archie Jones (Richard Lumsden), saved from suicide by an angry local butcher, his beautiful Jamaican wife Clara (Nenda Neurer) and their diminutive tomboyish and lovelorn daughter Irie.


As well there is Archie’s war pal and newly arrived Banglaseshi immigrant Samad Iqbal (Tony Jayawardena), his small but vocal Alsana (Ayesha Dharker) and their identical twins Millat (Assad Zaman) and his brother Magid (Sid Sagar).


Despite several additional back stories the play centres around Rosie, Irie Jones’s daughter quest to know who her father is (there’s a final twist here) and the clashes of ideologies between the Islamist Millat and his geneticist brother Magid, who the former is tampering dangerously with nature and God’s intentions and must be stopped by whatever means.


With a fine supporting cast that included Phillip Bird and Naomi Fredrick as the well mean meaning but snooty Chalfens and a sumptuous set of designer Tom Piper, all creatively lit by Oliver Fenwick, this lively family show has much to recommend despite many of the characters not been greatly fleshed out.


The real show stealer without doubt is the stunning score by Paul Engishby. The live band and the array of catchy compositions bought the play to life and added that extra much needed spice. It turned what would have been a mild Korma of a play into a sizzling hot Vindaloo of a production.


With director Stephen Sharkeys throwing in political messages such as the perils of religious fundamentalism, the risk to humanity through scientists playing ‘God’ and the dangers of black hair products for good measure, the play appeals on many levels.


Though White Teeth is not ground breaking by any measure, it delivers what it promises. An entertaining, wholesome feel good riotous night of fun and laughter, a perfect antidote to the cold winter evenings that are slowly drawing in.


White Teeth, Till 22 Dec, Kiln Theatre (formerly Tricycle), NW6 7JR, For tickets and info visit: https://ebonyonline.net/event/white-teeth/


Photo credit: Mark Douet:


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