*With a minimalist set and three young actors, this play needed a dynamic script to keep the audience engaged and that is exactly what Arinze Kene delivers to an award winning standard. The interconnected narrative of Kehinde (Fiston Barek), Joanne (Seroca Davis) and Rugrat (Akemnji Ndifornyen) is interspersed as monologues. Through the eyes of these teenagers the circle of life is explored.
Part of the London via Lagos festival at Oval House, the concentric characters are united around pivotal rites of passage which mark their coming of age. Be it Kehinde’s bereavement, Rugrat’s gang-related dilemmas or Joanne’s brush with familial mental illness.
Each character is as attractive as the magnets that Joanne speaks about. They are familiar not because they are stereotypes or unoriginal, but because they are true. In powerful verse, teenage tongues twist tales of ascent into adulthood into sage advice: “Be young, you can’t forget to be young, so be young, but don’t forget to grow.”
With writing by Kene (who was awarded most promising new playwright at the 2011 Offies) and Direction by Ché Walker that is so alive, the actors could slack on performing but the commitment and passion from the young cast plunges the audience further into their world of playground fights, love and loss.
Without preaching, Kene takes the audience on an emotional journey. We grow with the characters learning from their life lessons. The cultural heritage of these characters hovers over them like a force of nature. At times raining down with tradition other times shining with anchors to identity.
By the end of the play when the characters go on literal or figurative pilgrimage, they begin to find themselves, no longer babes but reborn. Inspired by Kene’s own school pilgrimage as a child, the aptly named Little Baby Jesus has a message for us all.
Little Baby Jesus continues until Wednesday 15th June 2011 show starts at 7.45PM. Tickets are £14.00 concessions £7.00.
For more information visit http://www.ovalhouse.com/
The UK Corner covers urban entertainment from a British perspective and is written by Fiona McKinson ©. She is a freelance journalist and creative writer based in London. Contact her at [email protected]