A robust inaugural season at the Gate from artistic director Christopher Haydon ends a little under the weather.
With flashes of brilliance in the first two plays of Resist! Three Stories of Rebels and Revolutionaries, this world premiere by young American Dominique Morisseau starts as a potential stick of dynamite before fizzling out in the later stages.
A former revolutionary of The Black Liberation Movement, Kenyatta, tracks down his criminal daughter in order to recover love letters from his dead wife. She has no interest in his former ideals and would rather just visit the world than change it.
The initial confrontation is terse, aggressive and intriguing as the girl, Nina, dismisses him as a “stranger that I’m offering five minutes to,” while he vainly tries to find a point of contact - her eyes, that remind him of her mother, or the fact she’s named after his favourite singer, Nina Simone.
Her partner in crime, a hard drug dealer called Damon, arrives on the scene, and the stage is set for an explosive showdown but… the plot or characters stubbornly refuse to take off so we’re left with stock situations and endless confrontations with few surprises.
Capable of capturing the rhythm and demotic speech of the street, Morisseau is an obvious talent with a flair for the incendiary monologue so it’s a shame that an interesting premise is not developed beyond the prosaic.
Drama is ultimately provided in the high-octane performances of Michelle Asante (Nina) and Chu Omambala (Damon), particularly the latter who utterly convinces as an intelligent gangster gradually realising he’s taken the wrong path.