Having read Is God Is by Aleshea Harris a few years ago I was extremely excited to see how this unique and violent play would be performed on stage. It certainly did not disappoint.
Based in the Dirty South of America; 21 year old Twins Racine (Amara Lawrence) and Ania (Adelayo Adedayo) are seeking revenge for the attempted murder of their mother. Although identical, Racine is considered the pretty one whilst Ania is the one people avoid looking at. This creates a power dynamic between the two, causing Ania to appear more vulnerable and sensitive.
Is God Is was fun, energetic, shocking and emotional.
The play opens with fire streaming across the stage which sets the tone that this play was going to be exciting. Racine and Ania, emerge from the fire covered in burn scars across their face and bodies that they have had since they were babies. They receive a letter from their long-lost mother ‘She’ (Cecilia Noble) aka God. Having believed she was dead for the last 20 years; the twins are shocked by the news that they will finally meet their mother. This meeting changes their lives in unexpected ways. It reveals the truth about their past and why they have burns all over them. Their mother informs them that their father carried out the gruesome act of setting her on fire and leaving her to burn alive with the twins.
Their mother disfigured and covered in burns has one dying wish for the twins – she wants them to kill their father, destroy everything he loves and bring back treasure. Now this is a big ask for the twins who are not cold-blooded killers, but they agree to take on this gruesome challenge. The play follows the twins on a journey to the Californian desert where they become the ultimate serial killers.
The play’s themes somewhat remind me of Kill Bill – females that will stop at nothing to seek revenge, with stylised ways of showcasing all the gruesome murders. Almost like a dark comedy, each murder becomes more extreme. From the western whistling music right before a violent act to the bold signs that identified the different people connected to their dad, actions and locations – the play had a Tarantino vibe to it.
What I loved about the play was the energy every character brought. Both twins held their own throughout the play and I felt they embodied their characters well
Performed at the Royal court on their main stage, it was great to watch an all-black cast tell a story that wasn’t around slavery or racism. Instead it used themes of female heroes and villains and took inspiration from classic Greek mythology stories.
Both the director Ola Ince and set designer Chloe Lamford brought the text alive by focusing on all the gory actions the twins perform and allowing the stage to look as eccentric as the text. The set was perfectly designed, from the moving backdrop screens to the turquoise house. I felt that every location was clear and the use of clever props transported me on the journey from the deep south to the Californian desert.
What I loved about the play was the energy every character brought. Both twins held their own throughout the play and I felt they embodied their characters well. Although their American accents could do with some further tweaks, they managed to maintain it throughout the whole play.
The play has a stellar cast that all add to the overall experience in their own ways. Twin brothers Scotch (Ernest Kingsley Jnr) and Riley (Rudolphe Mdlongwa) also captured my attention, as their larger than life characters were both hilarious yet believable. Ray Emmet Brown plays the perfect drunk lawyer. Vivienne Acheampong played Angie perfectly by showing a sensitive yet determined character that was great to see. Cecilia Noble who played ‘She’ aka God, had an excellent accent and although the character was bed bound, she still had amazing stage presence. Mark Monero who played the evil father Aka ‘Man’ commanded respect and came across powerful yet sinister.
‘Is God Is’ has many underlying themes that often affect the black community. From absentee fathers to children being lost in the care system. It exposes the bitter truth of how these issues can impact people’s lives.
Although the play was tragic and gruesome, I found the script humorous at times which helped digest the violence of the play. I loved how the bright staging, bold colours and flat backdrop screens constantly changed to tell the story and identify the many locations the Twins had to venture to.
‘Is God Is’ was fun, energetic, shocking and emotional. Although there was violence there was also peace. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this play and would recommend giving it a watch.
Special Afridiziak Reader offer: £12 tickets Book now for performances from until 26 Sep and see the show for £12. Simply use the promotional code Mission12 when you make your booking and the discount will be applied.
Standard tickets up to £35. (Excludes Band AA. Excludes Mondays. Limited offer. Valid for performances until 26 Sep).