Playwright Stephen Sharkey has adapted novelist Zadie Smith’s international bestseller, which is one of the most famed debut novels, having garnered multiple awards. The stage version has taken five years to create, and with it, Sharkey and composer Paul Englishby have added 13 original songs into the mix.
The result is a modern odyssey, spanning three generations of immigrants and UK natives. The narrative rewinds and fast-forwards from modern day London, to the swinging 70’s, to the hardship of WW2, to the banging 80’s and back again. With all the winding and weaving of the story, the audience is routinely transported back to Kilburn High Road, the very street that the Kiln Theatre (previously the Tricycle) is situated on. This is a story about the very community that surrounds the theatre, and is intended to reach out and embrace every last one of these true-to-life characters that inhabit this stretch of London town.
Zadie Smith's White Teeth, Kiln Theatre Kilburn
White Teeth is a genuinely feel good show that leans into musical theatre tropes. The songs are funny, vibrant and tongue in cheek, but not all of them have fully earned their place. There are moments of political messaging, such as in one song which lists all the ways and chemicals BAME women can use to transform their hair instead of keeping their natural manes, but these messages are subtle, and get lost in the flurry of literal confetti that is thrown across the stage at every available opportunity.
The cast do a remarkable job of keeping their energy on overdrive through this two and a half hour workout of a show. They are agile, confident and comic, playing a plethora of characters of different ages, races and backgrounds. For all the ensemble’s efforts, it is a shame that the characters have not been finely wrought, occasionally coming across as two dimensional simply because there is not enough time to sit with them and comprehend their more nuanced emotions.
The show is bursting at the seams with a narrative that rattles along at high speed. There’s dynamism, playfulness and genuinely tender moments. White Teeth offers its audience the beating heart of London with a wink, a nod, and a tip of the cap.
|What||White Teeth, Kiln Theatre review|
|Where||Kiln Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Brondesbury (overground)|
26 Oct 18 – 22 Dec 18, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £32.50|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|