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Monday, March 4, 2013
“We have nothing in common but our surname,” Onochie tells his older brother in God’s Property.
The latter, Chima, has just arrived back at the family flat in Deptford after serving a 10-year jail sentence.
Born of Irish and Nigerian parents, he finds 16-year-old Onochie (Ash Hunter) is a skinhead who chooses to believe he is no longer black.
We learn the proudly black Chima has been blamed by the hostile community for the death of a local white girl and they are out for revenge.
Although the play is set in 1982, with its references to racism and riots, it could just as easily be today.
Former EastEnders actor Arinze Kene’s script inhabits a similar world to the film This is England and its TV spin-offs and gives each brother multiple chances to shine as their backstory unfolds.
There is a lot of humour and tension – often at the same time – mixed with drama and conflict.
Ria Zmitrowicz is also excellent as Onochie’s would-be girlfriend, Holly, who seems to channel Lauren from The Catherine Tate Show without steering too much into parody, and keeping the drama real.
It does take quite a large suspension of disbelief when it is revealed why Chima was jailed but if you go with it and don’t ask yourself too many questions, it’s worthwhile.
The play is just 90 minutes long without an interval and this works in its favour as it seems more realistic and it would be a shame to break the tension by sledgehammering in an interval just for the sake of it.
At the end of that hour and a half, after much conflict, soul-searching and making up, Chima tells his brother: “We do have something in common because you are my favourite too.”
God’s Property is at Soho Theatre until March 23.