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BWW Review: LAVA, Bush Theatre


At Bush Theatre until 7 August

BWW Review: LAVA, Bush Theatre

BWW Review: LAVA, Bush Theatre Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo is sensational in Benedict Lombe's full-length debut currently running at The Bush Theatre. Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike, the piece is an explosive and complex exploration of identity, belonging and self-love. Moving through tumultuous Congo, post-Apartheid South Africa, and hostile Ireland and England, we watch a woman find herself, through exploring her and the world's history.

Her, played by Adékoluẹjo, receives an unexpected letter from the British passport office, and in that she is forced to investigate a mystery. Why doesn't her South African passport carry her first name? Throughout Lombe's play the mystery unravels; due to conflict in the turmoil of Mobuto's Congo, certain Christian names were banned, but one of those names were still given to Her as an act of rebellion. Held secret from Her for so long, we move through worlds and conversations to solve this case of re-found identity.

Immediately vibrant from the first moment, Adékoluẹjo brings an energy that electrifies the space. She dances so freely, and DK Fashola's movement direction lights an exuberant spark, that brings total joy. From that initial five minutes, you expect that you're going to experience something brilliant. And you certainly do, as the piece is so incredibly funny, magnetic, and brilliant. Simpson-Pike's direction brings so many beautiful nuances to the work. Little gestures work perfectly to communicate varying notions of freedom and discomfort. There are moments when Adékoluẹjo improvises with the audience, and these quickfire interactions only fuel the overall narrative. She is in complete control of the text, but allows moments for us to feed into it.

The piece's geography is highlighted by Gino Ricardo Green's exciting projection design, which displays varying passport stamps and flags corresponding to the country's that Her visits throughout. The images are shown on Jasmine Swan's large-scale envelope, which doubles up as a volcano ready to erupt. Josh Anio Grigg's sound allows this fire element to bubble and hiss, and through mixing this with various drones and pulses, the tension builds. Swan has also used the Bush's architecture cleverly by wrapping volcanic ash and lava around the pillars. It's a very innovative use of the space and builds the atmosphere so well.

Lava at the Bush Theatre until 7 August

Photo: Helen Murray

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