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Feast of words: Yomi Sode and the theatre poets stirring a new style


Like Kate Tempest and Inua Ellams, the Nigerian-born performer is breaking new ground with Coat, his tale of two cultures, told while he cooks up a stew on stage

‘It’s amazing how not-so-simple something simple can be.” This line, near the start of Yomi Sode’s show Coat, gains a fragrance and pungency over the hour like the tomato stew that he lovingly cooks up on stage, chanting its ingredients as he chops and stirs: “Olive oil, onion, tatashe, plum tomatoes, Maggi … and my secret ingredient.”

He is preparing the stew for a meal with his mother while his child sleeps in a back room. What appears at first to be a simple act of hospitality darkens and deepens as he recounts the life story of a Nigerian like himself, who was transported to London at the age of nine. By the end, the meal has become a reckoning with his family’s expectations of him, and by extension with the social and racial identity of any 21st-century immigrant who finds themselves stuck between two cultures.

Were it produced by a theatre company, it might have a four-week run, and be regarded as a play

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