Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo is truly excellent in Benedict Lombe’s blistering monologue Lava at the Bush Theatre
“It is time. It has always been time”
Wigan doesn’t get mentioned in many plays it has to be said but it does pop up rather unexpectedly in Benedict Lombe’s Lava, now playing at the Bush Theatre. It is part of the journey that Her has experienced, from Congo to London, via South Africa and Ireland; a journey that Her is being forced to revisit when she applies for a new British passport.
Lava is a ferocious piece of writing, matched perfectly in Anthony Simpson-Pike’s production here with the fabulous talent that is Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, a true star-in-the-making. From the crackling energy of the opening moments of the show, this is monologue as masterclass, as she confidently owns the auditorium and invites us to bear witness to the story being told.
It’s not the easiest of tales, particularly for a white audience (and white critics), as Lombe paints a vivid picture of Black experience, refracted through this particular experience but resonating with a common thread of multi-faceted racism persisting wherever Her is. Jasmine Swan’s set and Jai Morjaria’s lighting both do sensational work too.
And much as you can’t stop lava flowing (unless you’re Tommy Lee Jones), Lava’s work continues on past Her. It uses its final segment to probe into a frank examination of how Black experience is consumed by white audiences, questioning the need to dress pain artistically rather than acknowledging the ugliness and reality of racism as is.