The Dark @ Ovalhouse Theatre – 75% Out Of 100

Award-winning writer Nick Makoha’s latest production is a poetic re-telling of his personal story.

Makoha fled Uganda in 1978 with his mother in a bid to escape the civil war and reign of Idi Amin.
As the precarious overnight bus journey that ensues, scenes are interspersed, with flashbacks and poetic monologues performed by Michael Balogun (who has an uncanny resemblance to Makoha) and Akiya Henry.

Directed by rising star Roy Alexander Weise (Nine Night, The Mountaintop) The Dark is a quietly ambitious and well-executed piece of live literature where we see two actors play a dozen characters. Both Balogun and particularly Henry have the ability to go from youthful to aging, masculine to feminine with a wonderful fluidity.  Perhaps explaining why Makoha a consummate performer in his own right, My Father and Other Superheroes and various international stages over the years, chose not to play himself.

We are also treated to a soundscape which includes the mighty Fela and highlife anthems, a deconstructed bus that incorporates a precariously swaying luggage hold filled with a ‘Ghana Must Go‘ bag, a traditional African broom, banana boxes and a precarious way of swaying, typical of continental public transport. There is a clever use of projection and archaic tech but moreover, the moments of love, camaraderie, compassion allow this piece with some contrasting lighter moments in a narrative set in wartime Uganda and in the microcosm of family life between parents. With Makoha’s strong writing voice, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Forward poetry prize last year for his collection ‘Kingdom of Gravity‘, alongside a panache for honest dialogue you are lulled into the language of his world; it is in the too sudden ending that makes you realise how much so.

The Dark is filled with nostalgia and authenticity, a touching tribute to a mother’s determination and resilience, which transports you to 1970’s Africa and reminds us exiles, migrants, Diasporians and the displaced that our stories are and should be seen as important and universal enough to be centre stage.

The Dark runs from Wed 21 Nov – Sat 1 Dec, 7:30pm.

TBB readers can get a special £9 ticket offer (usually £15) for the final performances on Friday 30 November and Saturday 1 December 2018.

Simply enter THEDARK9 when booking online or quote when calling 020 7582 7680.

Find out more and book tickets here.


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