Arinzé Kene’s game changing, gut bustlingly good, groundbreaking and gorgeously observed one man show makes its West End transfer with effortless ease and maximum fuss.
After reviews for its sold out debut at The Bush earlier this year were uniformly and rightly filled with praise its transfer brings the weight of added expectation and pressure.
Misty is quite simply still a dazzling piece of theatre to be reckoned with, a quadruple threat dishing out delicious doses of drama, music, poetry and design that feel unrivalled in the current theatrical landscape.
Having now seen both I can safely and happily say that everything, which made its first run so…well…”fun” is in tact and everything that makes it feel like a timeless piece of satirical, searing and scathing stage virtuosity is still there too.
However the nature of the world we live in and specifically the London we inhabit means that during the intervening time, between the end of its sold out run and hopefully the start of a new one, its themes have evolved, mutated and taken on new dimensions, shaped by more real events and more everyday drama that frames our cities, our young black men and the struggles of Arinze’s stage persona under an even less forgiving and sharper lens.
This is “Featre shit” of the fiercest kind and one that demands you meet it in the middle as a willing participant whilst accepting that some of the things Arinze fights and rails against could well be you and not just them every now and then.
We’re the blood cells and also the virus.
What stands out on a second viewing in a larger domain is the overwhelming sense that if it ain't broke then it don’t need a fix. Less is once again more and Kene’s presence, the simple, minimal and subtle dashes of set design and staging aren’t dwarfed by a larger stage or surroundings. If anything they feel even better suited to a room of more people where the space for breaks in the fourth wall and dashes of the light hearted switch and bait kind take the audience by more surprise than they did in The Bush’s more intimate setting.
Everything that makes it feel like a timeless piece of satirical, searing and scathing stage virtuosity is still there.
Speaking to Kene after press night I asked him why certain elements had altered slightly, his answer was that they hadn’t, they are just determined on the night and are of his choosing, which felt like an answer from an artist who is fully aware of and in control of his craft, excited by the journey and ready to approach it with a keen eye and sense of f***ing with the form. So for an audience who may not expect their theatre to do away with said form and structure it will make for an exciting, energetic and eye catching experience.
One person theatre pieces will always sink or swim on the conviction of their theme and lead, Misty excels at both and on second viewing I felt that it could well be staged in years to come by another emerging actor with Kene’s charisma and canniness. Its shots at gentrification and eradication of grass roots urban multiculturalism don’t feel like they’ll lose relevance as we cede control of our domains to corporate capitalist gains. Whilst its observations and conversations on “blackness” and what that actually means in a number of environments will sadly never cease to do anything less than matter.
Misty is quite simply still a dazzling piece of theatre to be reckoned with, a quadruple threat dishing out delicious doses of drama, music, poetry and design that feel unrivalled in the current theatrical landscape and like Kene says towards the end of a thrilling monologue moment, a chance for people to see themselves in the theatre. In the play he is talking about someone like him but in truth there is a little bit of Misty in all of us, which is why it demands to be seen by many of us.