Lava at Bush Theatre
A fiery Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo shines in Benedict Lombe’s profound debut play that tells the story of a young woman who attempts the simple act of renewing her British passport only to open a Pandora’s Box of history, childhood memories and personal reflection.
The main character, known only as Her, ventures to reclaim her African name as she takes the audience on a journey that starts at her family’s departure from the Mobutu-controlled Democratic Republic of Congo (or Zaire), to their resettlement in post-apartheid South Africa, Ireland and finally Great Britain.
In an era of heated racial tension, Brexit and Black Lives Matter, Lava has the capability to speak to more than just those who have had the unique experience of emigrating from Africa. Throughout the protagonist’s experience, there is something that nearly any BIPOC individual can relate to, whether it be the incidents that arise out of consistently feeling like the “kwerekwere” (foreigner), or the societal disappointment at how race relations are being handled.
The theatre-maker manages to seamlessly integrate modern-day culture with historical allegory to produce an exhilarating piece that entrances viewers from the moment Adékoluẹjo begins dancing across the stage. The actress is a fantastic performer who alternates between monologues, dance and engaging with the audience, in a blend of traditional and forum theatre. The spectators can’t help themselves but to clap and cheer at certain moments giving the play an eccentric element of banter between them and the artist.
The production is politically charged, culturally explorative and bursting with delightful elements of music and dancing to heartfelt videos, making this one of the best London plays to debut this year. Anyone who can relate, and even more importantly, anyone who is not able to relate at all, should see this show.
Photo: Helen Murray
Lava is at Bush Theatre from 2nd August until 7th August 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.