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Orange You Glad to See Him: “Misty” reviewed

Shows don’t get more unique or brazen than Misty, Arinzé Kene’s sort of-solo show, currently taking a bow at the West Side’s The Shed after a celebrated West End run. Misty is a spectacle that includes massive lighting effects and (really) orange balloons used in a series of hilarious and effective ways – but Kene proves to be the most special effect of all.

Part spoken, part rapped, part recited, Misty uses dialogue, soliloquy, music, prose, and poetry to address cultural representation, gentrification, and how art can draw attention to sociocultural matters. It’s also a shifting look about the ramifications of a specific event, when a Black man from East London beats up a drunk passenger on the night bus. (“One shouldn’t settle disputes on the night bus,/ Shouldn’t settle disputes after ten at night, boss.”)

Kene also adopts an alter ego Virus, and the show explores this visual metaphor in myriad ways. At one point Kene is in a wet suit getting hit by balloons thrown by castmates. At another point, Kene emerges from within one of said balloons after spending minutes onstage. But burst through he does, and that’s what Misty does for Kene, already an esteemed performer in the U.K. (he played Biff in the recent West End version of Death of a Salesman that just ended a Broadway run here), allowing him to break through. Remember his name.