Trafalgar Studios, London – 20 October 2018
Arinzé Kene’s play Misty has transferred to the Trafalgar Studios from a sell-out run at the Bush Theatre giving more people the opportunity to see a play that is unlike anything else you’ll see in the West End at the moment.
Mixing form, media and performance style, there is a fictional tale told in verse – accompanied by Shiloh Coke on drums and Adrian McLeod on keyboards – about an incident on a night bus that has bigger consequences. This story is intercut with a series of conversations, voicemail messages and narrated emails that illustrate Arinzé’s creative journey with amusingly blunt commentary and opinion from friends and family.
His creative journey is further coloured with comically surreal moments, juxtaposing voices, images and performance in unexpected ways that reminded me of the style of filmmaker Charlie Kaufman – think Being John Malkovich, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind etc. All I’ll add is that when you are encased in a body-sized orange balloon, the struggle is real.
Peppered with humour and witty observation the play questions storytelling – what is the right story to tell and for whom – examining the impact of gentrification on communities and culture’s place in society.
The idea of the city being a living, breathing organism is one that is presented at the start but who is the blood and who is the virus?
It is a city populated by people that can produce art – and plays – and a city of pretensions, prejudice and disillusion.
Kene plays himself, the protagonist of the night bus story and at one point his sister, his performance is vigorous, full of humour, insight, conflict and occasionally self-deprecating.
It is a play with a pulse, that feels fresh, urban and contemporary. It is a play that stimulates, entertains and enlivens and leaves you feeling like you’ve been at a gig.
And you don’t often get that when you’ve watched a play.
The running time is two hours including an interval and I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
See it at Trafalgar Studios until October 20. My ticket was supplied by SeatPlan.
Was lucky enough to have Arinzé Kene sing to me when he was playing Sam Cooke in One Night In Miami at the Donmar in 2016.
More theatre I can recommend:
St Nicholas, Donmar Warehouse – seductive and sad, it revulsed, chilled and gripped.
The Political History of Crack and Smack, Soho Theatre – witty, blunt and poetic
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