What’s it all about?
A pivotal moment in history. Four famous men. One dingy motel room. Inspired by real events, Kemp Powers’ One Night In Miami… offers a fictional account of the celebrations that took place after Cassius Clay, who the world would later call Muhammad Ali, won the heavyweight championship in 1964.
Cassius chose to spend that evening, and celebrate his victory over Sonny Liston, with three of his closest friends; human rights activist and member of the Nation Of Islam, Malcolm X, King of Soul Sam Cooke, and NFL star Jim Brown. The celebrations organised by an older and more troubled Malcolm lacked booze, food and, to Sam and Jim’s dismay, girls. Instead, the four men talk race, religion and fame over bowls of, ironically, vanilla ice cream.
Who’s in it?
The driving force of the play is the polar difference in ideology between Malcolm X, played impeccably by Francois Battiste, and Sam, smoothly portrayed by Arinzé Kene. The pair bat heads over how to advance the black power movement and infiltrate a system stacked against them. Francois beautifully captures the inner turmoil of a man in a completely different stage of life from his peers that evening, with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Sope Dirisu transforms into a suitably confident and magnetic Cassius bringing a boisterous, youthful energy to the stage, which is complemented by David Ajala’s ultra-masculine Jim Brown. The pair play off one another and, when joined by Arinzé, beautifully bring to life a friendship that as an audience member you want to be a part of.
What should I look out for?
Francois Battiste’s gives a compelling performance as Malcolm X which is only heightened by the strong ensemble cast. The highlight of the piece comes in the tune of soulful music from Arinzé, particularly his rendition of You Send Me, in which the audience is stunningly serenaded.
What’s being said on Twitter?
STANDING OVATION at the DONMAR tonight. One night in Miami is a must see. Brilliant writing and acting. #OneNightInMiami
— Annette Caseley (@AnnetteCaseley) October 6, 2016
One Night In Miami @DonmarWarehouse : brilliant, darkly funny writing, superb ensemble acting. Thanks for this production. GO SEE IT
— Michaela Coel (@MichaelaCoel) October 12, 2016
In a nutshell?
Four men striving to obtain the rights and respects their accolades deserve whilst struggling to find a unified voice. One Night In Miami packs a punch with stellar writing and compelling performances.
One Night In Miami… plays at the Donmar Warehouse until 3 December. You can book your tickets from the venue’s website, here.