Klook’s Last Stand at the Park Theatre
When “the father of British soul” writes music and lyrics for a play, expectations arise for a production to wow its audiences. And this world premiere of Ché Walker’s Klook’s Last Stand certainly does have the wow factor.
Set in present-day California, the play tells the story of Klook (Ako Mitchell) and Vinette (Sheila Atim), two drifters who manage to build a space of love, mutual respect and intimacy for each other until their pasts catch up with them.
There is real chemistry between the actors: it sizzles across the distance that they keep for much of the performance. True intimacy clearly isn’t about physical proximity. Rather, it is about seeing and understanding, about speaking the same language, whether it be through words, movement, or music.
Language and lyrics are important in this play, and not only because they bring to life the characters’ inner worlds as they reminisce about their past. Vinette is a writer, full of self-doubt and regret until Klook’s support, love and, ultimately, sacrifice help her find her words.
And there are a lot of words: big sometimes, intellectually challenging. Scattered with sudden swear words, the meticulously crafted dialogue and lyrics provide most of the play’s many laughs. Yet it is the smaller, quieter messages that stand out, lit up by Arnim Friess’ design. Ultimately, however, some words never disclose their meaning. Sometimes a single word as obscure as the titular character’s name “has to be enough”.
Composed by Omar Lyefook, the music to Walker and Anoushka Lucas’ lyrics is soulful, haunting and deeply touching. Sheila Atim’s performance is particularly stunning: her singing voice is bound to send shivers down audiences’ spines. Both actors do an incredible job sustaining the tension, passion and sexual attraction between their characters for most of the production’s 90 minutes.
The juxtaposition of humour and tragedy, of love and hate, joy and sadness, together with the excellent dialogue and music beckon comparisons with Shakespeare. And much like Shakespeare, Klook’s Last Stand is meta-theatrical: a story about storytelling, a play about the roles people play and the masks they wear, it takes on fundamental questions of life, responsibility, and fate as the characters struggle to take control of their future against the adversities of their past and present.
A multi-faceted and versatile production, Klook’s last stand is a deeply moving theatre experience that should not be missed.
Photo: Arnim Friess
Klook’s Last Stand is at the Park Theatre until 6th July 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.