Dialektikon, Park Theatre, London – ‘moments of beauty’
Miranda’s world is dark. Beyond early hints at an abusive dad, and a nan who endured hardship as an immigrant and is now dying, is an endless parade of exploitation and greed that it seems only she can change.
Mary Nyambura is tireless and wide-eyed as Miranda, and Sabina Cameron’s Ayida Wedo, a loa (spirit) in the Vodou (voodoo) religion, is here a poised guide and intermediary between the girl and the ‘shades’ of dead wise men, including Allen Ginsberg, Stokely Carmichael and Herbert Marcuse.
Adebayo Bolaji’s production boasts a percussive and slippery live soundtrack alongside its inventive, very Brechtian techniques: it makes for a Mighty Boosh aesthetic, with all strings visible. Shadowplay squishes heads, sack-cloth puppets illustrate starving children, and the monster Moloch’s eyes are red and white torches. In geometric mirrored masks and bright, smeared makeup, the cast continuously transform this nightmare realm and populate it.
Benjamin Victor’s Servant is the sycophantic antagonist, Moloch’s lackey. He’s someone who can’t help himself, what the play’s writer, Jacky Ivimy, suggests we must avoid becoming as she covers every injustice imaginable through debates and dangers for Miranda: imperialism, systems of government, violence against women, global warming.
Dialektikon refreshingly refuses embarrassment at its own didacticism and ambitious scope, and has moments of real beauty, but inches along towards the end of its long running time; its lessons might not enthral everyone, but its consciously theatrical bent is great stuff.