entertainment

Review | The one-man show 'Misty' tells a story about black culture and identity

Find out what we thought of Arinze Kene's new play at Trafalgar Studios, London

2018-09-20

Misty is pretty much a one-man show performed by actor/writer Arinze Kene.

It’s music, poetry, theatre and abstract performance art all rolled into one. And it’s delivered with such energy, skill, talent and charisma that it has to be the hottest ticket in town.

Kene takes us on his journey through London, a young black man’s experience of a city where boroughs are organs, roads are arteries, white people are blood cells and black people are the viruses.

Backed up by a live electric score by Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod it is a pulsing, rhythmical story of urban angst.

However, the moment we accept what we think this is, Kene subverts our assumptions and it becomes about something else.

It’s now about Kene as a writer, struggling to find his voice and remain true to himself amidst pressure from his friends who claim he has sold out by writing another clichéd play about black identity.

The play becomes about the changing face of London, where it turns out that the real virus is gentrification, the hipster coffee shops and the yoga studios.

It becomes a howling call to arms to protect culture, identity while recalling Grenfell and Black Lives Matter. Kene rages, he dances, he sings, he sweats in what is a dizzying frenetic performance.

And then all of a sudden he’s stuck inside a gigantic orange balloon. It’s theatre at its best, constantly surprising, visually exciting, powerful and rousing in its delivery.

Kene has the body of a Greek God, possess an energy and charisma that fills the theatre and is simply an enormous talent to watch. His work is a love letter to London in all its complexity, warts and all. He mixes social politics and art and it may not be perfect but like the city itself it is one big, loud, messy affair and is all the better for it.

His final self deprecating declaration will leave you cheering on your feet. Not be missed. 

Rating – 5* 

Misty runs at Trafalgar Studios until 20th October

Words by Matthew Hyde