Roots Mbili Theatre and Sheffield Theatres
Far Gone is writer and performer John Rwothomack’s plea to the world to notice and understand the plight of child soldiers in Africa, as well as to give a deep and resounding voice to another corner of BAME stories that are not heard enough in the West.
The story of Far Gone tells of Okumu, a Northern Ugandan child who, after witnessing great family tragedy, is pulled into the grasp of the Lord’s Resistance Army under the gaze of the terrifying Comandante, forced to witness and commit atrocities just to survive.
Rwothomack leaps, spins and laughs with childish glee, his voice tightened into a pre-adolescent bleat. We’re never in doubt that Okumu is still a child, particularly when this performance is contrasted with the older characters. It’s an inspiring turn as, with a balletic twist, Rwothomack folds himself from the childish Okumu, into the bent and twisted Sprinkler or the towering and terrifying Comandante.
It’s a frenetic and exhaustingly physical performance, rarely letting the audience feel like they are safe, or allowed to rest, any more than the characters. Much like the spinning top toy Okumu begins the play with, the spinning dervish of the story whips around, lashing the audience over and over and more besides. A treasure of a play, a near perfect spectacle, and an emotional and frank depiction of the cycle of violence and loss of innocence.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan