Passion Fruit at the New Diorama Theatre: Press night review by Stephen Vowles 

Dior Clarke who wrote this semi-autobiographical show and also takes the lead is a wonderful storyteller. Although some of the scenarios are predictable they are delivered with a passion and energy that is apt and correct for not just his character but for the other actors that play multiple roles to tell his story about growing up on a council estate in London, and dealing with all the threats and indignities served upon him.

His fellow actors, the very impressive and scene stealer Hayden Mampasi are just superb, as is Charlotte Gosling. Director Melina Namdar brings to life Clarke’s, and co-writer Stephanie Martin’s, script through an invigorating and pulsating soundtrack which makes for a rapturous theatrical experience. And from the get-go the audience were involved; happy to cheer and applause as the Clarke character via direct monologues to the audience raised certain points about social injustice, physical abuse and just being very scared. 

This is actually beautifully written and the comedy elements are very funny: “He was not a drug dealer, he was an entrepreneur!”. 

Clarke does make it clear that black stereotypes exist and he is not ashamed of making that point. At the heart of the play he knows he wants a better life and that to do that you must take chances – perhaps even reveal your own vulnerability – and that makes the play an excellent emotional rollercoaster giving all three characters an infectious quality that is totally appropriate. especially the Clarke character, Romeo, when it comes to how he defines his own masculinity.

The dance sequences are just exquisite bringing to the various scenes where they are used an animalistic quality to express the connection between Clarke and his first male lover. Exciting, extremely sexual, enticing and right on the beat. Passion Fruit looks at the cultural and class divides and how a certain existence can become oppressive and a feeling of being trapped, with the need to escape and get fulfilment paramount.

Overtly outrageous and told with a tenderness that is utterly joyous. 

Photos by Cesare Di Giglio


Passion Fruit runs to Saturday 19th March at the New Diorama Theatre, 15-16 Triton Street, Regents Place, London NW1 3BF. Box office: 020 7383 9034 

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