Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Half God of Rainfall review at Kiln Theatre, London – ‘a sublime tribute to the African art of storytelling’

Kwami Odoomi and Rakie Ayola in The Half God of Rainfall at Kiln Theatre. Photo: Dan Tsantilis
by -

Demi is half Nigerian mortal and half child of a Greek deity. The bastard child of Zeus, he grew up to possess great gifts: great height, great strength – and an aptitude for the game of basketball.

Kwami Odoom is perfectly cast in the role, with his statuesque figure, sculpted limbs and smooth voice. Rakie Ayola, as his mother Modupe, is also mighty – a beacon of strength. The two of them move with balletic grace, under Imogen Knight’s movement direction, to tell the story of Demi’s birth and his death.

Inua Ellams’ poetic play swirls Greek and Yoruba mythology together as the narrative sweeps across the continents of Africa, America and Europe.

Nancy Medina’s production is both delicate and severe; coarse like raw earth, yet soothing like a balm. Max Johns’ spare set design chimes with the play’s African storytelling. It brings Ellams’ words into focus and gives them space to breathe.

Jackie Shemesh’s lighting design and Tanuja Amarasuriya’s sound are also stunning. Hideous cracks of thunder and blinding flashes of lighting immerse the audience in the story being told.

A follow-up to the superb Barber Shop Chronicles, Ellams’ writing may be rooted in myth but it speaks to contemporary issues: the regressiveness of colonisation, violence against women, and the toxic masculinity that leads to it. It’s a play of love, but also of pain – a play that needs to be seen.

Barber Shop Chronicles’ Inua Ellams: ‘I started writing because it was illegal for me to work’


We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Inua Ellams’ sublime tribute to the African art of storytelling