The 14th Tale

Unity Theatre
15th – 16th March 2013

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

The 14th Tale is both written and performed by Inua Ellams; he tells the story of a family of troublemakers as the story winds from the dusty streets of Nigeria to the roof tops of Dublin then onto the city streets of London. Ellams talks of mischief running through every male in his family, from his grandfather, to father to himself. As he retells and acts out the amusing stories passed down through his family, we can see how these tales have become legends within his family and he even dares to wonder what mischief his own son may get into one day.

Ellams is playful as he tells his stories; his poetry is beautifully written and intelligently performed. It is clear he is proud of his Nigerian roots but also happy to have had a mixed cultural experience living in wonderful, exciting places. The personal nature of his autobiographical stories gives Ellams the freedom to explore them fully; the complexities of a relationship between a father and his son are made simple and deeply moving.

In its basic form it is a one man performance piece, with nothing to aid him but a torch and a chair, but if you allow your imagination to join Ellams on a journey through his life, we find the story of a life spent finding the inner mischievous child within. His perfect timing allows his poetry to show that our expectations of what it means to be young, black and living in London are not always the case. Simply a joy to watch.

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