A review of One Night In Miami at The Donmar Warehouse
Donald Trump has been elected President of United States of America, right now there are people who fear that their voice won’t be heard. This play reminds us that in times like these that it’s important to hold on to your voice and represent.
This play is about many things; changes that success should bring but doesn’t, black society, media, friendship and race relations.
So the short of it is that Cassius Clay has just become the first African-American man to win the WBA,WBC and Lineal Heavyweight Boxing titles from Sonny Liston. His three best friend: Singer/Songwriter Sam Cooke, Political Activist Malcolm X and Football star Jim Brown who have all come to a motel in Miami to celebrate this momentous occasion. Despite the history that has just been made; a change of direction is looming on the minds of Cassius and Malcolm. In turn it forces each of them to examine to their individual contributions to US Black diaspora and whether they; all at the pinnacle of their careers should be doing more.
The premise of three celebrity friends talking away from the media and fans is genius idea because we got to see so many possibilities like: Cassius Clay being nervous about his pending reinvention and Sam Cooke’s disappointment at not writing Bob Dylan ‘Blowing in The Wind’ song. Although, I don’t think Sam Cooke could have released that Dylan song, without problems… I digress, but this allows the audience to ponder questions that still plague the Black Diaspora today. For instance: Are the best and brightness black people within western society are reaching their full potential? or What is the best way for black people highlight their issues and When Black people truly have and enjoy the full rights, respect and equality a white person does? These 3 men leave the room determined to find the answers to these questions, whilst providing inspiration to new generation.
Despite the subject matter, the play is very funny and the bits of music help to provide light relief whilst remind us that race is still an issue today in US. The actors bring out the humour and no-nonsense honesty of the text. Each actor has tapped into the essence of these well known and celebrated figures to great effect and Arinze Kene who plays Sam Cooke has the hardest job because he has to sing like Sam Cooke, which he does brilliantly. All the actors play these famous men wonderfully.
One night in Miami is good piece of theatre that leaves you full of thought and inspires you to reevaluate your efforts. Get a ticket if you can, this play shouldn’t be missed.
A tip: call the box office or go to the Donmar Warehouse. The online booking system is a bit wiggy.