Runs The Gambit
In today's modern theater anything is possible. In Arinze Kene's play, "Misty", we get a potpourri of rap, poetry, music, dance and story. What is strong at all times in this show is the video design by Daniel Denton. It is unusual to mention the video at the beginning of a review, but I thought this was the best thing about the show. Denton was consistent, he captured the mood of the show; he was deep, dark and at all times edgy.
Kene, who wrote and acting in this basically one person performance (he had two musicians who joined the acting, a little sister and others who helped the show along). The nexus of the show was cell support and viruses to break down his city. In his opening, he equated a cities heartbeat to human organisms. It is the blood cells versus the viruses. At first it is mysterious as to what he is talking about; it later becomes clear as to what these references are.
Under Omar Elerian's direction, it never fully brings out the authors full feelings as to how Kene lives his life. Is he a criminal? Is he employed? Does he love anyone other than his sister? These things are all questions before as well as after the show as they are never really answered. Kene himself gives us different scenarios: we get the skit about his uncle, another about his mother, the incident on the bus, Jade at the party and the the producer about his play (Obama overdubbed). It is these different scenes that are really confusing. Each part is never fully played out nor explained.
With two talented musicians on both side of the stage, Nardine Lee (Drums) and Liam Godwin (organ) the arrangements are noteworthy as is the video in this show. What lacks, however, is the writing and the message. Very much an anti-white play, we never get a sense as to why the gentrification bothers Kene so much. He admits that the area looks better, that the "hard shoe" people have taken over. In the next breath he says but "it looks nice". East London used to be the rough part of town, now that whitey moved in it is safer, cleaner (the opposite of white flight). Kene on the other hand is looking for money, cloths and food; we never are told why he is in this state of poverty, other than his "nigger play" he doesn't seem to work; we don't even know if he has any real friends. Yet Kene calls the white man moving into his neighborhood the viruses.
At The Shed, "Misty" will appeal to the woke culture, but it will not appeal to the mass theater goer. It's not so much that it divides whites and blacks, but it is more about his under tones, his idle rants about nothing we can feel to deeply about. Even in placid times this show doesn't bring large emotion. Most of the audience at last nights performance were white, a small black percentage were whooping and clapping during the performance. Kene it seems was targeting this emotion among minorities but his case seems to have fallen short as he never makes a resonant case as to how the black man has been wronged. People moving into a once seedy area and making it nice is not a case to be angry about. Having a local merchant be replaced by upscale coffee shops is not the same as having a hard working business owner have his business burned down by BLM or Antifa solely because they are Asian or white. The point he makes is weak; areas change and so does societies.
Under a modest set by Rajha Shakiry's set and costume design the urban feel is there but it too is nothing to get over excited about. The costumes are basic and uninspired; the set is little more than a few props that add little to the show.
"Misty" is a show that never reaches its limits; never fully grasping what the author is thinking because he never fully comes forward with his case against the interlopers, the viruses as he puts it. What "Misty" does is vent against the white man; it further brings a division between blacks and whites, and yet, it doesn't move the needle at all in regards to topic, insight nor emotion.
Post Comments on Misty.
While many younger, more liberal theater goers may find this story attractive, "Misty" has to many different scenes that are very confusing. Some of the scenes are good, some of the music is good, so too are some of the poetry. "Misty" never elevates itself upon the words really good nor great. Only fair is this show; it is not raw, nor elegeant in its delivery; only adequate.
In today's woke world, theater goers are given: "Passover", "A Strange Loop", "Ohio State Murders," "1776" and a plethora of weak, horrific shows which if your not careful, may end up in one of them as an audience member.
www.swmnimbus.org, www.triviscompanies.com, www.gimmeshelterproductions.com, Metropolitan Magazine, Robert Massimi, www.nypost.com, www.wsj.com, www.theaterworld.org, www.broadwayworld.com, The Shed, www.playwrightshorizons.com, www.roundabout.com, New York City, Covid19, MSG.org, drama critic, Dramatists Guild.
About the Creator
Robert M Massimi.
I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows
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