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The Crack Magazine


‘I, Daniel Blake’ Star Shines at Newcastle’s Live Theatre

The debut play of up and coming actor, rapper and singer, Kema Sikazwe, only has one actor – Kema himself. There is only one set, mesmerising as it is: a dark space with strobe lights and two steps. Yet so many characters are brought to life, and we are taken on a journey through so many places – Zambia, a school in Newcastle’s West End, a family home. This alone proves just how much of a talented storyteller Sikazwe is.

The story begins when Kema’s family are given the opportunity of moving to the UK and securing an education, courtesy of a Finance Minister uncle with links to the University. When they arrive at their council estate in Newcastle’s West End, they realise that it isn’t the Buckingham Palace they expected. Grappling with family bereavement, mental illness, bullying and crime, Kema fights through adversity to chase his dreams and discover, in his mother’s words, that “the music is always present, you just have to hear it.”

The talent of Sikazwe, also known as Kema Kay, is truly limitless. One minute the audience was filled with laughter as he recalled learning how to correctly use the term ‘radge’, the next our tears were illuminated by the purple lights as Kema perfectly captured his emotions in stunning lyrics, heartfelt vocals and raps. Even the way he moved around the stage was ingenious. It’s incredible how one person can put on such an impactful show that moved me more than most I’ve seen with entire companies of actors.

Kema’s coming of age story is heartwrenching…but also incredibly inspiring. I left fully believing that as long as I can cling to my passions, I can get through anything. Now I just need to work out how to stop all the songs getting stuck in my head…

Leanna Thomson

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