BWW REVIEW: Omar Musa's Captivating Commentary On Culture, Community and Connection SINCE ALI DIED Comes Back For Sydney Festival
Tuesday 8th January 2019, SBW Stables Kings Cross
Following on from a successful season during Griffin's Batch Festival, award winning poet and performer Omar Musa brings SINCE ALI DIED back to Griffin Theatre. Pairing personal stories, political commentary and prophetical dreams of meeting his idol this 65 minute work is both intimate and illuminating.
The title of the show refers to Musa's hero, the celebrated boxer Muhammed Ali who was also an activist, philanthropist and spoken word poet who died on 3rd June 2016. With a simple black stage, initially illuminated with a projection of graffiti, Musa, in simple attire that distances himself from the street image often associated with the art forms utilised, takes the audience on a woven journey of reality and imagination. Musa uses the entire stage and his personality fills the space whilst lighting helps to ease the audience between styles, stories and settings ensuring there is variety in the expression. Musa's utilises a direct delivery style, unamplified and connected the audience, for the recollections and observations of the society around him. For the songs he is accompanied by recorded tracks and utilises the microphone for looped mixes. The music ranges from spoken word poetry and hip-hop solos and duets with guest vocalist Sarah Corry who adds a wonderful ethereal old-world sound.
Musa's collection of stories and songs gives an interesting insight into his life, family, friends, faith and fortitude. He gives an insight into a father's blind faith, a caring mother constrained by a patriarchal society and the challenge of growing up as a dark skinned Muslim boy of Malaysian descent in the southern New South Wales town of Queanbeyan. He shares the challenges of loss and love and emerging from a world where the most obvious predetermined fate would be the drugs and crime that claims his best friend and girlfriend, using personal stories to reinforce that personal decision is what allows people to change their paths. He also challenges the contradictions and hypocrisy of politics and popular opinion as well as the racial prejudice prevalent in seemingly multicultural country.
Interesting, engaging and enlightening and wonderfully entertaining SINCE ALI DIED is an honest and open expression of personal stories along with the underlying adoration of famed fighter. Worth catching as part of Sydney Festival.