Tag Archives: Max Johns

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




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Buggy Baby – 4 Stars


Buggy Baby

The Yard Theatre

Reviewed – 13th March 2018


“a beautiful elision of the comic and the tragic, the everyday and the fantastical”


Five of them left a country they could no longer live in, only Nur and Jaden made it here. Baby Aya wears a bright pink helmet to make her head round again, after it has been misshapen by sleeping in a buggy – they can’t afford a cot. Nur (Hoda Bentaher) spends most days at college, trying to make a better life for the three of them. Whilst Nur is out, Aya is looked after by Jaden (Noof McEwan), who describes himself as a “drug addict, refugee, can’t speak English”. Who could resist that on a dating profile, he muses. He is addicted to “leaves”, but each trip plagues him with visions of his lost wife, Yusrah, stuck inside baby Aya, and as he begins to chew more and more, the boundary between their everyday reality and his surrealist delusions begins to waver.

Baby Aya is played by grown adult, Jasmine Jones, whose characterisation is smart, funny and sharp, whilst still managing to remain always convincing as a baby. She is more insightful in her shrewd commentary than her parental figures, but hopelessly dependent upon them. In fact there isn’t a weak link across these performances. Bentaher and McEwan excel, as they move further and further apart.

The set is flawless. A one eyed bunny, a hovering wardrobe, white plastic chair to match white plastic fridge, an expanse of light pink carpet and a hula hoop in the corner. And almost out of eye’s reach, the axe hanging way up high on the wall under a sign that reads “In Case of Emergency’. The piece is impeccably designed all round, from the fantastically creative set by Max Johns, which works beautifully with Jess Bernberg’s excellent lighting design, to the ominous sound, composed and designed by Giles Thomas.

There is a danger at times that we lose the issues in this sense of surrealist spectacle, the severity of the situation dulled over and over by an element of play. However it is more likely that these issues get lost in each other as we weave from being a refugee, to a single mother, onto a drug addict, onto abuse, poverty, homelessness and PTSD. We are left with a sense of important issues being present, without them being tangibly discussed or resolved. That being said it is also an unfortunately necessary reminder that these issues do intersect, and that refugees are parents, students, addicts alike. It is certainly a refreshing, funny and engaging take on the refugee crisis and the ramifications of the lack of support for refugees.

This piece is a beautiful elision of the comic and the tragic, the everyday and the fantastical, and a definite must-see.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by The Other Richard


Buggy Baby

The Yard Theatre until 31st March



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