Tag Archives: Nnabiko Ejimofor



Theatre Royal Stratford East

NOW, I SEE at the Theatre Royal Stratford East


“All three actors have wonderful chemistry together, expressing a totally believable fraternal bond.”

Movement in theatre can often feel forced in an attempt to be Avant Garde. Cringe-inducing lyrical movement to show passion or staccato twitching under strobe to show something dark. In Now I See, Lanre Malaolu’s second play in what will be a trilogy as writer, director and movement director, modern black British masculinity is explored in a style of storytelling that naturally and organically interweaves narrative and movement to enhance the drama.

Set at the funeral of one of three brothers, the play is mostly a two hander between the remaining siblings, interspersed with flashbacks to a youth spent playing rough, making up dance routines, and impersonating the Power Rangers. A low-res hum of afro beats provides constant background music (sound design Pär Carlsson), cut with contemporary Black British pop and R&B to accompany some of the more involved moments of movement. Kieron (Oliver Alvin-Wilson) and Dayo (Nnabiko Ejimofor) appear not to have had much of a relationship in recent years, the cause for which is side stepped around and never addressed head on. What is clear is that the onset of sickle cell anaemia for their brother, Adeyeye (Tendai Humphrey Sitima) led to the issues between the brothers and the rest of the family. It’s fitting, then, that the remembrance of Adeyeye’s life should act as a healing experience for them.



Malaolu’s movement expresses emotion – joy, pain, relief – where words fail; enhancing the drama, rather than distracting. Set and staging (Igrid Hu) further complement the movement with a recurring rippling motif extending from drapery across the proscenium arch through to water filling a perspex coffin ever present downstage. In one particularly effective moment Alvin-Wilson as Kieron describes a dream he has had about a bird, a metaphor for his own deep buried pain. Under dim lighting, Nnabiko Ejimofor crosses down stage as the bird, taking slow timid steps before his movement becomes larger and more erratic, visualising the nightmarish quality of Kieron’s dream sequence.

All three actors have wonderful chemistry together, expressing a totally believable fraternal bond. Alvin-Wilson is the gruff, strong man. The eldest brother ground down by life. Who has hardened his exterior to protect against the cruel world and bad luck he has been dealt. Ejimofor is younger, more hopeful, trusting. He embodies the bookish stereotype of a man in touch with his emotions and perceptive to those of others. Tendai Humphrey Sitima as Adeyeye is largely silent in his role as the deceased brother, other than for occasional voice overs. This makes his perhaps the most difficult role of the three, never off stage but hardly at the centre of the drama; a constant presence circling his brothers haunting them or being haunted by them.

This all seems rather dark, but the cast seems to be enjoying themselves so much delivering the witty lines that more than once more than one actor can’t hold it together. Malaolu’s early successes may have been through movement and dance but this piece shows his talents as a writer, despite a slightly over indulgent climactic clash between the brothers in the second act. The script is surprisingly funny and warm for a play about grief and family trauma. But it’s through the smart delivery that the specificity written into the characters comes to life.

NOW, I SEE at the Theatre Royal Stratford East

Reviewed on 16th May 2024

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Camilla Greenwell





Previously reviewed at this venue:

CHEEKY LITTLE BROWN | ★★★½ | April 2024
THE BIG LIFE | ★★★★★ | February 2024
BEAUTIFUL THING | ★★★★★ | September 2023



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page


For Black Boys

For Black Boys …


Royal Court

For Black Boys

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy 

Royal Court Theatre – Jerwood Theatre Downstairs


Reviewed – 7th April 2022



“a special, important piece of writing, and beautifully executed”


This show is not just a bunch of moving parts, gathered together. This is a whole, a collective: the music informs the text informs the design informs the lighting informs the performances. And it all moves in perfect synchronicity.

Taking place in an unidentified safe space, these six Black Boys come from different families, different backgrounds, and yet they all feel the weight of the monolithic ‘Black Man’: A black man doesn’t cry, he doesn’t show any weakness, he doesn’t need love.

Each character has a chance to speak his piece, be that regarding primary or secondary school, paternal relationships, romance, further education, or inescapable violence. And each is received without judgement, without fear of rejection.

Considering it’s an entire play of exposition, you’d think it would get tired pretty quickly, but writer-director Ryan Calais Cameron shows the depths and widths of this subject, the many angles and refractions, and he finely laces what is incredibly serious and unsmiling with so much tenderness and humour. He’s not afraid to take a very sombre moment and morph it in to a joke and then back again, or vice versa. For example, Midnight (Kaine Lawrence) tells us how he lost his virginity when he was nine to his babysitter. It’s the sort of messed up story boys are made to feel they should brag about. But obviously Midnight is traumatised, and while he’s trying to downplay his trauma (“And I can see you lot looking at me like I’m a victim”) the group starts singing, “I just want you to know that you are really special” from Snoop Dog and Pharrell’s ‘Beautiful’. They start in earnest, gathering closer and closer, embracing him tight, eventually breaking into affectionate laughter.

This is just one of so many moments which aren’t simply one thing- funny or sad; silly or serious. And the performances reflect this atmospheric plurality: everyone is somehow both acutely self-aware and touchingly naïve; honest in their disagreements and yet open to change; able to flip a smile in to a grimace with one breath.

Obviously this safe space is a fantasy, but these characters are so multifaceted, their interactions so genuine, it feels like maybe there’s a future where this kind of open dialogue could really exist.

Anna Reid’s design works in perfect tandem with this idea, using bold block colours to create a space that is both welcoming and Utopian. Layered with Rory Beaton’s equally bold lighting design, it feels isolating and inclusive in turn, giving each character their moments of solitude and fraternity.

And the dancing, and the singing, and the almost jukebox-style curation of a flawless soundtrack. There is so much to wax lyrical about. Each performer is so in sync with his part, it feels like it must have been workshopped, but I don’t see how given that the script is basically an epic poem.

Such a special, important piece of writing, and beautifully executed.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ali Wright


For Black Boys …

Royal Court Theatre until 30th April


Reviewed by Miriam this year:
Moulin Rouge! | ★★★ | Piccadilly Theatre | January 2022
She Seeks Out Wool | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | January 2022
Two Billion Beats | ★★★½ | Orange Tree Theatre | February 2022
The Ballad of Maria Marten | ★★★½ | Wilton’s Music Hall | February 2022


Click here to see our most recent reviews