Tag Archives: Inua Ellams

My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid


The Bunker

My White Best Friend

My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker

Reviewed – 25th November 2019



“a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see”


On arrival at the Bunker Theatre we are handed wristbands, and enter into a theatre space transformed. There are three pieces of stage, in the corner is a DJ, and milling around are the audience, stood waiting, ready. Posters adorn the walls that highlight the show’s history and echoing the gig-like set up designed by Khadija Raza.

The first letter, by Rachel De-Lahay, the night’s curator, begins with a request to reshuffle the space, putting black and brown, queer and female bodies, front and centre.

This first letter is to her best friend, her white best friend, and it is read by Inès de Clercq. It is about the micro-aggressions, as well as the macro, the things people say that they don’t mean, that they don’t even see the problem in, the things that hurt all the more for it. The letter talks about white privilege, about how even a best friend can be part of the problem. “This is the fight you and your white best friend will never have,” writes De-Lahay, highlighting how much is left unsaid.

The second letter is to a “white ex situation-man-ship”, read by Tom Mothersdale, a white actor, who is reading these words for the first time. It touches upon the white privilege surrounding drug addiction and the way it is talked about. The letter and final letter of the evening starts, “Dear so-called allies.” Read by Susan Wokoma, our writer takes us back to Stonewall, to the erasure of a black and brown history and a trans history in the way Stonewall is remembered and celebrated today.

These letters are from different people, to different people, but they share a power. They are funny sometimes, and moving at other times, and generous and unforgiving and brave, spilling over with words that have been left on the tips of tongues too many times to count.

‘My White Best Friend (And Even More Letters Left Unsaid)’ is back by popular demand, with new letters and performers each night, and it isn’t hard to see why. The audience audibly responds to what is being read out, to a mis-pronounciation of a black name by a white actors, to things they recognise in their own experience, to things they will leave here with trying harder to recognise in their black and brown friends’ experiences. It is hard not to respond, like that, in the middle of the space, surrounded by people.

Directed by Milli Bhatia, this is a hugely powerful piece of theatre, a hugely important piece of theatre, and one that everyone must see.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown


My White Best Friend and Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid

The Bunker until 30th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | November 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre

The Half-God of Rainfall

The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre

Reviewed – 30th April 2019



“a captivating and unique blend of combined storylines and lineages that seamlessly interact and complement one another”


The Half God of Rainfall is the latest instalment from writer and poet Inua Ellams, performed at the recently revamped Kiln Theatre (formerly the Tricycle Theatre). It tells the mystical story of a half Nigerian mortal – half Olympian god, and his mortal mother.

Combining ancient Yoruba and Greek mythology, Ellams creates a sort of multiverse, with the Orishas and Olympian Gods standing side by side. This results in a captivating and unique blend of combined storylines and lineages that seamlessly interact and complement one another.

There is a strong sense of cohesive collaboration in this production. All the elements: design (Max Johns), sound (Tanuja Amarasuriya), lighting (Jackie Shemesh), movement  (Imogen Knight) and direction (Nancy Medina) had purpose and neither obstructed nor overshadowed each other. The aesthetic of the production, down to the costume design was simplistic yet precise; permitting the audience to fill in the gaps with our imagination. It was impressive and rewarding to see the intelligence and effort behind every artistic choice. The sense of play and the world of mythology was all the more enhanced for the audience, as a result.

The play is a two hander and reads like an epic poem, reminiscent of writers such as Debbie Tucker Green and Homer. Though wordy in parts (and the accents being a little off at times) the language and stylish flow of Ellams’ writing had the dexterity to always engage one back to the story.

The actors, Rakie Ayola and Kwami Odoom traversed effortlessly between multiple characters with a fluidity that reinforced the continuous flowing rhythm of the story. Their dramatic choices were bold and distinct. Most of all, Ayola and Odoom were wonderful to watch; arresting, dynamic and exciting.

This play is a multi-layered, complex and highly intelligent piece of writing. Ellams addresses racial politics, legacy, culture, human spirit, self-destruction and the narrative of abused women and lost men all under one mythological roof. The audience is sent on a journey to Olympus and the galaxies beyond as though turning the pages of the story ourselves. The fine line between legend and reality was masterfully detailed reflecting our own need and desire to create demigods out of celebrities and sporting heroes.

Unpredictably clever throughout, poignant and fun, we were also brought, purposefully, back to Earth as Ellams reflected the brutality of life, at us. How those in power, who can seem untouchable like deities, so oft abuse their privileged and inflict violations beyond comprehension. And yet, even in the depths of pain and violation, the human spirit can be an indomitable and mighty force.

Ellams intertwines message and poetry with great balance. We do not leave the theatre with the thought that this is simply a play to be left in the clouds of fantasy. We’re reminded to take home the sobering and yet uplifting thought that a magnitude of strength resides in all of us and that the choice as how we wield it is, indeed, a great one.

A skilfully crafted, magical folktale; one that will certainly stand the test of time.


Reviewed by Pippin

Photography by Dan Tsantilis


The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre until 17th May




Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com