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KEma Sikazwe’s first name means “the shining one” in the language of his Zambian parents. It suits him. The rapper and actor, who also plays the role of Kema Kay, has a radiance that draws you to him. Despite all the quick punch in his words, he comes across as a good soul, an innocent person trying to make sense of a world that hasn’t always made his intentions positive.

In this autobiographical solo exhibit, first seen in 2019 and revised for this race, he tells a coming-of-age story about his quest to fit in. She strikes with her honesty, her vulnerability and, in her mixture of words and music. , its virtuosity – that and the finely tuned staging of Graeme Thompson.

By right, Sikazwe should have had it easy. He was not born into wealth, but his father had the initiative to land a place at Newcastle University and, most importantly, an uncle who, being Finance Minister Ronald Penza, had the resources to bring Zambian family in UK.

Shine review – a positively radiant one-man show |  Theater
Photography: Von Fox Promotions

According to Sikazwe’s own account, the northeast of England had roughly the same mix of poverty and wealth as the country he left when he was three years old. The weather could have been better, but their new communal estate had a familiar community spirit.

One of the observers of nature, Sikazwe paints himself as a shy and sensitive boy whose attempts at assimilation are forever thwarted. He takes on the local accent but remains an outsider, especially because of the racist harassment of his classmates. Fighting earns him acceptance but brings more problems.

It’s a dilemma made worse by a series of family tragedies that give the monologue much of its emotional appeal. Whatever Sikazwe’s will to do the right thing, the circumstances are against him. His sunny personality is all that explains his apparent lack of anger towards those who did not support him.

He tells his story with the same charm and urgency with which he delivers his songs, his fluid and controlled body language as Nick Rogerson’s light strips, arranged in parallel lines on Emma Bailey’s set, range from cool blue. from the disco to fiery red. As a show about positive thinking, it shines.

Shine is at the Live Theater, Newcastle, until September 25.


theguardian Gt