Review / Omar’s rare revelations evoke ‘oneness’

theatre / “Since Ali Died”, Canberra Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company, at Canberra Theatre Centre, from January 31 to February 2. Reviewed by JOE WOODWARD.

Omar Musa. Photo: Robert Catto

OMAR Musa delivers words as revelations. “Since Ali Died” is less storytelling and more of a gradual reveal of life contours. Music, banter, rap, carefully constructed gestures and a magnetic personality combine to evoke a theatre so penetrating as to make a bond between performer and audience. This is a very rare event. 

Musa combines a mythical journey down a river with Muhammad Ali through which key moments of a life journey are brought into focus. Key figures of the father, the mother, a childhood friend, a girlfriend, and some other significant characters are painted into a fabric of stunning imagery. In doing so, he turns the physical terrain of Queanbeyan and Canberra into an embracing character just as significant as the lives he portrays.

To do this, Musa uses very focused and charismatic body language while penetrating the audience individually with his eyes. It’s a hypnotic and all absorbing show. The rap and songs are surprisingly accessible with every word carefully placed to enhance the narrative.

The language is biting, sometimes acidic, poignant; but it is bringing forward a story of struggle for the outsider, the cultural minorities, the brutal reality of racism and xenophobia.

Yet Musa takes the audience with him on this journey up the river. We are not shut out. Instead we are invited to share a deep humanity as artist and audience are linked in moments of oneness.

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