Review: ★★★★★ Misty, Trafalgar Studios

Review: ★★★★★ Misty, Trafalgar Studios

An epic contemporary spoken-word performance, Misty is a profound, provocative musical ode to modern London life. Following its sold-out run at The Bush Theatre, Arinzé Kene’s critically acclaimed play transfers to London’s West End, where it has the opportunity to reach a wider and more diverse audience than ever before. Nestled between the politics of Downing Street and the bright lights of Shaftsbury Avenue, Trafalgar Studios is the perfect location to present a mix of two worlds. Breaking away from the more traditional constraints of the theatre, playwright and performer Kene blends verse, song and poetry to tell the story of inner city rage and gentrification, whilst adopting metatheatre techniques to capture the journey behind its creation – commenting on the writing process and demystifying its ethics and aesthetics.

Permeating the story is the central metaphor of the capital as a living city creature; composed of blood cells and viruses. Indicative of London’s politics, it’s an extremely powerful tool when used to expose issues of race and displacement. Supporting this approach is the symbolism of the balloon, a double-archetype of freedom and fragility that can burst at any time. Translating all these images and feelings into sound are designer Elizabeth Peña and live musicians Adrian McLeod and Shiloh Coke, who create the phenomenal pulse and beat of London, 2018. Daniel Denton’s projections, Jackie Shemesh’s lights and Rajha Shakiry’s set are also stunning, successfully capturing the heart and underground soul of London at night – with all its uniqueness and eccentricities.

With inventive direction from Omar Elerian and a tour de force performance from Kene, Misty defies characterisation. A playful, powerful, lyrical journey about what it means to be a black artist in London today.

Misty plays at Trafalgar Studios until 20th October, with a post-show Q&A with Arinzé Kene on Tuesday 18 September.

 

Chloe Hoey. 

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