Five young poets from Leeds are selected to compete in the International Poetry Slam Competition in New York City. While love, passion, and pride drive them forward, society’s representation and how they see themselves holds them back. A coming-of-age story of how life never feels easy, but good friends are always by your side.
Zodwa Nyoni has written a very real and sharp script. The characters instantly come to life. As soon as they speak you instantly know these people, you have met them before. We hear their struggles and their hopes for change through their poems. Each has their own personal issues they are struggling with but they’ve found poetry together and that’s what binds them.
From feelings of sadness to laughter, from feelings of anger to hope, it hits home the pressure of life and how it feels when your dreams are challenged.
Ode To Leeds moves with a good pace and the actors have amazing chemistry. This is a very talented cast of five actors: Genesis Lynea (Queenie), Chance Perdomo (Theo), Aryana Ramkhalawon (Devika), Archie Rush (Mack) and Leah Walker (Darcy).
The story is a refreshing one. At a young age you do feel the weight of life and responsibility. Everything is changing and you’re not sure of anything anymore. The young generation have unique pressures on them from overwhelming social media and lack of opportunities to mixed ancestry. As the characters note in the opening speech: “Complex, this life of haves and have / knots… your expectations of submission, of oppression, always misrepresent me/ that’s if I’m represented at all.”
This is a very personal story of five young friends learning about life, which comes at an important time. There may be dreadful things in the world, but never lose sight of the beauty. You are not the only one who hopes for change. A very moving watch and I hope more people will go along and see this play.
Catch it at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 1st July.