Koko Brown in Grey at Ovalhouse

‘Strength encapsulated’: GREY – Ovalhouse

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Amy ToledanoLeave a Comment

Ovalhouse, London – until 13 July 2019

What is it? Spoken word and theatre creative Koko Brown brings this powerful exploration of an experience of depression through the eyes of a woman of colour. She is joined by Sapphire Joy who performs while providing BSL interpretation.

What’s it all about? Koko uses sound, movement and light to explore the emotion and pain involved in living with a mental illness. Her loop station serves as the base, with musicality playing a huge role in expression when words are not enough. There is a segment of show that is based on a children’s television programme. The pair discuss emotions, and in particular, look closely at sadness.

Sapphire remains forever upbeat, while the heaviness weighs on Koko, who swiftly brings the section to a close. Another part of Grey brings to the surface the mistreatment of the black community suffering with depression and the flippancy that comes with addressing people of colour who suffer from mental health issues. A powerful monologue bursts from Koko who exclaims that “black women, you are enough!”

The discussion around antidepressants is also incredibly poignant, and actively focuses on the negative affects that these types of medication can have on people, if not prescribed correctly. The importance of the entire show comes down to its final, quiet moments in which Koko confides in her friend Sapphire, and simply states: “I just want to have good days.”

How did it make me feel? The show is, in a word, strength encapsulated. The two women steer this ship in such a brilliant and raw direction that it is only natural that the audience was nodding along and audibly agreeing with them throughout.

The musicality also has an important role in the show. It repeats various musical motifs to invoke certain emotions from the audience throughout and provided for some very significant moments. The chemistry between the pair is lovely to witness. They often take turns shadowing each other, and there is a few, lovely intimate moments between them that the audience is not a part of, that makes their relationship seem even more special. The sign language used in the piece is also wonderful.

The simple and powerful choice to make the show as accessible as possible is a perfect example of the brilliant work being done at Ovalhouse, and is proof of how theatre makers should be thinking outside the realms of who they think theatre is for.

Where Is It Playing? The wonderful Ovalhouse provides an incredible space for this show and the fantastic set and lighting design by Emily Hardwood, Martha Godfrey and Xana fit perfectly into the world of the show.

Anything Else? This show is for anyone who has suffered with a mental illness, and more importantly, is for anyone who hasn’t . The incredibly delicate way that Koko delves into the subject matter gives an insight that will make those who do understand, feel seen and those that don’t understand, a way to understand. GREY runs at the Ovalhouse until the 13th July 2019 If you like my reviews and want to support this blog feel free to buy me a virtual coffee here!

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Amy Toledano
Amy Toledano is a passionate and avid advocate of new writing and theatre in the UK and abroad. Writing her first play Submit/Us, in 2017, Amy has gone on to write poetry for online magazine Fearless Femme, as well as writing for The Plays the Thing blog for fellow MyTheatreMate Laura Kressly. She started her own site www.withinherwords.co.uk in 2018. Alongside this, Amy is a performer herself and has appeared in shows at the Tristan Bates and the Bread & Roses Theatres, and continues to create and promote exciting new work.
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Amy Toledano on InstagramAmy Toledano on RssAmy Toledano on Twitter
Amy Toledano
Amy Toledano is a passionate and avid advocate of new writing and theatre in the UK and abroad. Writing her first play Submit/Us, in 2017, Amy has gone on to write poetry for online magazine Fearless Femme, as well as writing for The Plays the Thing blog for fellow MyTheatreMate Laura Kressly. She started her own site www.withinherwords.co.uk in 2018. Alongside this, Amy is a performer herself and has appeared in shows at the Tristan Bates and the Bread & Roses Theatres, and continues to create and promote exciting new work.

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