Review Round Up: Black Love, Kiln Theatre

We round up the reviews for Chinonyerem Odimba’s Black Love  that is playing for a limited season at the Kiln Theatre.

(c)Camilla Greenwell

Broadway World: **** “Here, Odimba (who also directs) makes us stop and reflect on what is said about Black women, and what can really feel like home. Co-produced with Paines Plough and tiata fahodzi, Black Love is a true celebration of life and love.”

London Theatre1: **** “For the most part, this production is riveting, challenging as much as it is celebratory.”

The Guardian: **** “The most powerful moments come when we hear the words of real people, played over Kieran Lucas’s eerie soundscape, who explain what Black love means to them. It is a powerful reminder of everyday Black existence; at times focusing on unfairness but mainly joyful.”

Theatre Full Stop: “There are some really catchy songs in the line up which are delivered in an old-school jazz-hands fashion that contrasts nicely with the modern writing style. The in-the-round minimalistic white set fit the scene really well with hanging white jagged boards bringing the atmosphere during dramatic scene transitions where the lighting becomes an art installation in its own right. References to George Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” sounded in the darkest of moments and yet this is still a beautiful celebration of black love and black women that uplifts and entertains without shying away from the hard facts of reality.”

Theatre Weekly: **** “The original compositions by Ben and Max Ringham have an easy going R&B feel to them, but the lyrics attached to them are confrontational, Roo in particular uses them to make statements about race, feminism and taking control of your destiny.  There are also powerful statements, voiced by Ayo-Dele Edwards, in which the words of real people describe what Black Love means to them.”

Evening Standard: *** “It’s a likeable, often joyful but ultimately lopsided show, part family story and part polemic.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Despite the flaws, and the overriding impression of this still being a work-in-progress, Black Love is a refreshingly original piece of theatre, provocative but suffused with affection. It’s a celebration and a cry of pain, and it’s not like anything else currently on any London stage.”

The Times: * “A musical play written and directed by the Nigerian-British writer Chinonyerem Odimba, Black Love was greeted with rapturous reviews last year when it toured on Paines Plough’s pop-up Roundabout stage. Far from being innovative, it serves up a tired blend of Afro-mysticism, bland songs and agitprop.”

British Theatre Guide: There is a passion in Odimba’s writing that fuels powerful performances from Nicholle Cherrie as Roo and Nathan Queeley-Dennis as Nathan, she delivering her anger with energy, he showing more obvious vulnerability, both equally impressive when simply moving to their voice-over voices. Beth Elliott as Lois is made more two-dimensional, more a symbol: white coloniser’s territorial takeover and cultural appropriation shown in microcosm.”

Black Love continues to play at the Kiln Theatre until the 23rd April.

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