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THEATRE Lava, Bush Theatre London

Impassioned exposé of pain and anger wreaked by racism and prejudice

MORE of a poetic discourse than a play, Ronke Adekoluejo’s monologue, written by Benedict Lombe, follows  a young woman’s often happy but sometimes fraught journey from her birthplace in the Congo to South Africa, Ireland and then England.

Lava begins as an entertaining tale with a generous helping of humour. Yet its end is visceral in its challenging conclusions.

The first half is loosely framed around Adekoluejo’s quest to gain a British passport. But when that theme draws to a somewhat tame, if amusing, conclusion the way is paved for a more intense and deliberately disjointed second half.

In it, Adekoluejo describes how years of drip-drip prejudice, from all kinds of sources, have almost literally eaten away at her insides.

By the end, as video material pushes Adekoluejo into the shadows, we are left in no doubt that racism is not just about direct prejudicial abuse but also encompasses the persistent, sometimes unthinking, presumptions and statements that reinforce the concept of “difference.”

Having stated her case, Adekoluejo — magnificent in a highly demanding, multifaceted role  —leaves the stage with studied intent, as if to say: “I’ve said what I need to say, now it’s up to you.”

To reinforce the point, there is no return to acknowledge the frenzied applause. The message, and the challenge, is left lying on the stage — like the lava oozing out of the set.

Runs until August 7, box office: bushtheatre.co.uk

 

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