Review: Something Dark

Something Dark is a monologue written by Lemn Sissay, a poet from Manchester, describing his experience growing up in the care system as a black man. The monologue artistically blurs the lines between poetry and theatre, exploring themes of identity and belonging in a poignant and thought-provoking way.

Lion Theatre Company managed to transform the Kingsgate room in the DSU with a couple of bits of black fabric into an intimate setting, perfect for the monologue style of the piece. This meant that actor Darrius K Thompson was very much able to direct his performance outwards to each individual in the room, almost as if we were having a one-on-one conversation. I was also particularly impressed by the choice of music, composed by Acacia To, which definitely added to the overall ambience of the performance. Particularly intense moments saw the shift from the gently tickling keyboard, that played through most of the show, to the sharp contrast of the Cajon. 

However, the show was very much made by the close to flawless performance of Thompson. He managed to maintain his high energy throughout what was a very emotionally challenging piece. Each of his motions felt like they had been specifically choregraphed and his almost constant movement made the moments of stillness all the more striking. Indeed, he knew his part so well that I got the sense that he could have performed it backwards if he so desired. A lot of time and effort had evidently been put into the piece, by both him and director Kimran Rana. In their aim to bring the character of Lemn Sissay to life, they certainly achieved this.

Lighting Designer Freddy Sherwood used lighting as a direct reflection of the words being spoken. This was to the extent that it almost felt like Sissay had direct control over the lighting in the room, as if his words had the power to change his setting.

Although the piece was very much an exploration in the psyche of Lemn Sissay, it was not without humour. These moments were very much capitalised upon to provide contrast to the darker themes. Despite the suggestions of the title the piece does leave you with a sense of hope. For me this was the most striking aspect of the piece despite the descriptions given by Sissay.

Something Dark is on at 7.30pm, Thursday 6th December, Kingsgate Room in the DSU.

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