Bush Theatre’s play Misty poised for West End glory

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Image captionArinzé Kene in Misty at the Bush Theatre © Helen Murray

After a sell-out run at the Bush Theatre, one of London’s most acclaimed productions of the past decade - Misty - is transferring to the West End.

And now, residents of Hammersmith & Fulham will have a chance to see the new version of the show at the Trafalgar Theatre thanks to a special ticket deal. The discounted tickets are to thank the borough for its backing and H&F Council for its financial support of the Bush Theatre.

Play Misty

Image caption: Mya Napolean and Arinze Kené in Misty by Arinze Kené at the Bush Theatre © Helen Murray

Misty, the provocative, stimulating solo show written and performed by Arinzé Kene, opens at Trafalgar Studios – the former Whitehall Theatre by Trafalgar Square – on Saturday (8 September).

It has initially been booked for six-week run, but producer Jonathan Church believes it has the potential for longer, and a realistic chance of a transfer to New York as well as touring productions around the world.

“We want to celebrate the Bush Theatre in the West End, and also make it possible for the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham, who have contributed to the success of the show and the theatre, to enjoy it,” said Jonathan, who is jointly producing the show with the Bush and Trafalgar Theatre Productions.

It is a phenomenal feather in the cap of the Shepherds Bush theatre and artistic director Madani Younis who, through brave commissioning and wholehearted commitment to diversity, has gained a reputation as a theatrical trailblazer.

Extended run

Set in London, the show lets Arinzé Kene guide the audience on a journey through the heart and dark soul of the capital in a mix of gig theatre, direct speaking and live art.

It premiered at the Bush in Uxbridge Road in March and was extended as performances rapidly sold out thanks to a mix of word of mouth and positive reviews.

Misty will take over from the comic thriller Killer Joe, by Tracy Letts, starring Orlando Bloom, which is running at the Trafalgar Studios until mid-August.

“We are making the commercial investment [in the West End transfer],” added Jonathan. “But it remains the Bush’s show.”

What appealed to him about Misty, and Arinzé Kene’s performance? “We all thought it was absolutely stunning, but politically it feels like the most important show to come along in a number of years,” said Jonathan. “Arinzé is going to have the most incredible next five years, and we could get this show to New York!”

He also predicted that the Bush could benefit from touring productions of the show, giving it an international festival life well beyond west London.

The task for the summer months is to build interest in the show, with Jonathan believing that H&F audiences could be pivotal in its West End success if the come and support it in the early days of its run.

“The challenge is to get the London theatre-going public in as well as a more diverse and complex audience,” he said. “I hope to persuade some of the people who take a pride in the Bush’s achievement to come into the West End.”

When Jonathan watched the show at the Bush he was “sitting in between a 30-year-old Afro-Caribbean woman and an older white man”, partly observing their reactions. “One was cheering, one was tutting,” he laughed.

Image caption: Omar Elerian and Arinzé Kene in rehearsals for Misty © Helen Murray

London star Arinzé Kene

Actor and writer Arinzé Kene was raised in London, of Nigerian parents. He was named most promising playwright at the Off West End theatre awards in 2011, where his play Estate Walls was also nominated for best new drama.

Director Omar Elerian has been at the Bush since 2012. His directing credits for the Bush include NASSIM by Nassim Soleimanpour, One Cold Night by Nancy Harris, Islands by Caroline Horton and Leave Taking by Winsome Pinnock.

Starring Kene and directed by Bush Theatre associate director Omar Elerian, with music from Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod, the transferred production of Misty (suitable for over 14s) will run at the 420-seat Trafalgar Studios from 8 September to 20 October.

Read more about Arinzé Kene

Ticket offer

H&F residents can see Misty in the West End for just £15 a ticket, using the offer code MISTY15.

The offer is available for performances on 8 to 15 September.

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