Written and Performed by Lemn Sissay
Date 19 October 2006 Venue Vancouver East Cultural Centre
Reviewer Ed Farolan
Rarely does one see a poet who is an extrovert. Sissay is the exception: he is funny, powerful and entertaining. Something Dark is the story Lemn Sissay has always wanted to tell. He spent the first 17 years of his life in state care, and then spent his entire adult life searching for his family. Sissay has carved a career as one of the most electrifying, exciting and original voices in British literature. The radio play of Something Dark was commissioned and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in October 2004 and won the RIMA award for best radio drama in 2005.
He has received rave reviews from England's leading newspapers: The Independent, The Guardian, The Big Issue, etc. The South African Weekly Guardian compares him to Muhammed Ali: 'Floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.'
In Something Dark, Sissay dramatically narrates the true story of how he was given up by his Ethiopian mother in the 1960s and was in foster care. He was renamed Norman Greenwood (after the first name of his social worker) and at age 11, transferred to a state orphanage in Lancashire where he was nicknamed Chalky White by the other boys.
At 18, and no longer under state care, he moves to Manchester where he becomes a celebrated performance poet. Three years later, he goes to Gambia to meet his mother who works for the UN. He finds out the truth: his mother was raped and he was the consequence.
Sissay's performance is honest, painful at times, and humorous. His narration streams from coarse prose to lyrical poetry. He's worth watching.He will be at the International Writers' Festival, and those who missed his one-night performance at the Cultch should try to catch him there.
© 2006 Ed Farolan