DramaReviewSouth West

The Dark – Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol

Writer: Nick Makoha

Music: Duramaney Kamara

Director: Roy Alexander Weise

Choreographer: Jennifer Jackson

Reviewer: Julia Beasley

It is 1978 in Idi Amin’s Uganda. Four-year-old Nick and his mother are fleeing from a strife-torn homeland that has been ravaged by years of military dictatorship. The story of their journey from Kampala to Heathrow is recalled by the now adult Nick, in this moving refugees’ tale written by poet Nick Makoha.

The bumpy journey by rickety local bus begins with bribes. Then there are dangerous encounters at every turning – curfews, armed ambush, and checkpoints. And it is a constant night.

But the darkness, it transpires, is both outside and within. It is a thing to be feared and fear itself; a means of remaining hidden from view and a deep well through which memories of those dark times bubble to the surface. ‘War is a house in the middle of the ocean,’ says adult Nick of the whole disorientating, sickening experience.

Actors Michael Balogun and Akiya Henry cope adroitly with a range of roles, in this two-handed narrative. Although the known outcome, unfortunately, robs the drama of any real jeopardy, the constant switching between various lively characters is highly entertaining.

The refugees eventually reach their goal – safety – but it is sadly disappointing. At Heathrow, they are greeted with scepticism. How can they possibly have made such a journey? It’s a story that needs to be told…

Runs until 10th November 2018 | Image: contributed

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