Something Dark review: Brings light to these dark Durham days

‘Something Dark’ proves to be a powerful and insightful play


Something Dark explores the life of Lemn Sissay, an ethnically Gambian man who was brought up in the United Kingdom. Kimran Rana’s director's note states that the play was to explore the themes of belonging and identity when trying to find your place as a person of colour living in the UK. These themes are shown through the play, and proved for an interesting and thought-provoking watch.

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Darrius Thompson

The language of the play was beautiful and well-thought out. Contrasting the ideas of 'light' and 'dark' to show not only actual light, but mental state and racism itself. This was a clever play on language and made the piece seem universal in many ways.

Later finding out that the author was a poet, the words seemed to leap out even more than they had originally. There was a natural rhythm and flow which Darrius Thompson (playing Lemn Sissay) seemed to glide through. He performed them with ease and comfort, a daunting task given the size of the play as well as being the only performer. He should be proud of such a powerful performance.

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As well as the beautiful imagery, the technical aspects were faultless: on que and in time. They really added a lovely element to the piece creating nice distinctions between the various settings we were transported to. Although, it often felt that a change in light signalled a change in thought for Thompson, and not the actor himself, which made it difficult at times to follow if he was discussing a new thought or continuing the old one. Moreover, there were periods of blackouts between certain sections. Whilst I can understand that this might have been in the script, and allowed for a well needed sip of water, I felt that it broke up the fluidity of the play. This resulted in clunky transitions and moments of awkward silence in the audience.

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A special mention needs to go to Acacia To, who both composed and performed the music in the piece, which was beautifully timed and exquisitely created. It tied many of the sections together from the snowy landscapes of Wigan to the heat of the Gambian climate.

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Rana’s dedication and passion for the play shone through Thompson’s performance. I was moved, enraptured and touched by the piece.

The play was well thought out and I felt like I was actually watching Sissay perform. A difficulty given that Thompson is the only other actor to attempt such a daunting piece of writing.

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Director: Kimran Rana

This is a unique play which made me see identity in a new light, I’m glad I had the privilege to watch such a rare piece of work.