Review Round-up: and breathe..., Almeida Theatre

   and breathe...  

Almeida Theatre. 

Press night: 21 June. 


Centring on the loss of a beloved matriarch, and breathe... explores family relationships, bonding and culture. This deeply personal and poetic play tackles the unspoken, between what we leave unsaid to protect each other and how we internalise the world.

Yomi Ṣode is a Nigerian British writer, performer, and facilitator. He is a recipient of the Jerwood Compton Poetry fellowship 2019 and was recently shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2021. He has read his work internationally at various festivals and performed his debut solo show (COAT) to sold-out audiences. His debut poetry collection, Manorism will be published in spring 2022 by Penguin Press.

This World Premiere production will be performed by actor David Jonsson (BBC2’s Industry) who was due to star in “Daddy” A Melodrama at the Almeida last year, and is directed by the Olivier Award-winning director Miranda Cromwell (Young Vic’s Death of a Salesman). Featuring music composed and performed live by Femi Temowo.

Jonsson plays Junior, a father in his early thirties (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Critic Reviews:

 The Guardian  

Expertly directed by Miranda Cromwell, it never once feels lethargic, though it has pools of stillness weighted with heavy emotion. Jonsson does not rush through these, nor indulge in them, but times them to a perfect pitch so that his story is about the bewilderment of grief but also the depth of love between these two men, and delivered without sentimentality.

The Times (paywall) 

It’s a shame the words didn’t always have a chance to breathe. Only an hour long, the piece that marks the Almeida’s return to live performances is a tantalising hybrid, a sequence of poetry by the young British-Nigerian writer Yomi Sode, recited by the actor David Jonsson while the musician Femi Temowo, sitting behind him on the stage, unfurls vamps and riffs that feed off the rhythms of the verse.

The Telegraph (paywall) 

Sode’s poetry is bound up in the specificity of black experience – the clash between Yoruba culture and the West, the performative nature of black masculinity – but it also reaches beyond that in its search for the language of grief. Admittedly, despite its subject, the piece isn’t particularly dramatic: in lesser hands you can imagine it working more effectively on the page than on the stage. It’s a small, even low-key piece – and yet, thanks to Jonsson, it’s also pretty special.

i  

Jonsson is taut, wry and tender, his body contracting as if the agony is visceral, then reassuming the carefully controlled shape he has learnt to present to the world. He handles each syllable of Sode’s poetry with limpid precision. It’s crystalline – and shattering.

  

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