Leave To Remain at The Lyric, Hammersmith: Press Night review by Stephen Vowles

Written by Matt Jones and Kele Okereke, this modern musical love story performed in a contemporary balletic style – with well-crafted songs that really add a superb ‘move the plot’ along device – tells the story of Alex, played by Billy Callum, and Obi, played by a sensational Tyrone Huntley, who meet, get to know each other, move in with each other and then to cement their relationship plan to get married. Then enter their respective parents, Obi’s sister, played by an infectious Aretha Ayeh, and other friends and folk that care for them and interact with them as a couple.

There is a fabulous pulse to this show, a clear tribal influence linked to the use of commercial disco beats fused with calypso. This is a musical with a message. Homophobia is addressed; based on family tradition coming from Obi’s Nigerian roots. The writers offer very strong opinions that redemption can be found in religious beliefs – and by the wonderful use of slow motion and exaggerated body gestures, the mood of this play becomes amplified. 

At times Leave To Remain is pleasantly and pleasingly predictable but this is not a bad thing as all the ingredients created by the authors – and performed by a very strong and skilful ensemble cast – make for a remarkable night at the theatre. Family values, challenging stereotypes profoundly, comments on drug culture and the juxtaposition of what society creates, adds magic and a marvellous feel-good factor as the musical comes to its inevitable happy ending. Praise indeed for all concerned. Excellent and exemplary theatre. I would say, flawless!


Leave To Remain runs to Saturday 16th February at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London W6 0QL. Box office: 020 8741 6850

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