THEATRE REVIEW: Misty starring Arinzé Kene at the Trafalgar Studios

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE?: Trafalgar Studios

WHEN?: 13/9 (press ticket), runs to 20/10 RUNTIME: 2 hours (including interval)

We shortlisted half a dozen Best New Plays of the year in June and 2, including this 1, make their West End bows this month.

  • Read on for reasons including why Misty works in its new West End home

Its star may be familiar to you from film The Pass, the Donmar’s One Night In Miami (where he played Sam Cooke) or the Bob Dylan musical Girl From the North Country, which also transferred to the West End before winning 2 Oliviers.

Kene wrote Misty and performs it and we gave it 5* when we saw it in Shepherd’s Bush’s delightful Bush Theatre in March this year. How has it changed for its West End run in the larger Trafalgar Studios?

Well, Trafalgar Studios (capacity 380) is about double the size of its previous home but its steep rake means the intimate gig theatre nature of this piece is retained in its new home.

This two-hour show with interval is a mixture of self-penned songs and spoken word poetry which explores many avenues, not least the idea of London as a body infected by the virus of gentrification.

If that sounds too heavy, there are interjections from friends and relatives of Kene’s about his work and whether he is stereotyping the culture he’s from.

We particularly enjoyed Little Girl played by Sedonna Henok/Mya Napoleon/Rene Powell and Shiloh Coke, who’s not only a mean drummer but whips up a storm as Kene’s friend Donna who wants to know why people only go to watch films that feature black people suffering. She loves cycling and wants to see someone who looks like her in montages like that in cinemas.

Misty is the fourth theatre production Coke has musically directed after having previously worked on the Donmar’s magnificent Shakespeare Trilogy (Julius CaesarHenry IV and The Tempest) for both stage and screen (including the New York transfer of The Tempest).

Back in March we said Misty and said it contains some of the most impressive and thrilling original writing we’ve seen in a theatre all year – and that still very much rings true.

Kene gives such a physical performance that he is soaked with sweat while topless at its close.

He’s clearly a name to watch and next he takes the lead role opposite Micaela Cole in Netflix’s acquired feature film, Been So Long and in the BBC’s new thriller, opposite Paddy Considine, Informer and the BBC adaptation of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song.

We’re thrilled Misty has found its way to the West End and it’s a terrific opportunity to see something raw, now and real from a star who is only likely to burn brighter in the very near future.

  • Picture by Helen Murray via Facebook courtesy Trafalgar Studios. Tickets
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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