Hats off to this man who I can only describe as a gift to the expressive arts. Obviously the queen and I share the same opinion on him because Jonzi D's last piece was in reference to his invitation to receive an MBE.
I have known Jonzi since I was a small child as he studied and worked alongside a close family member and remains a friend to the family. I have not been able to see all of jonzi’s work however I have always been so inspired and in awe of his productions whenever I have attended a show he has had any affiliation to.
Jonzi is well known for his chameleonic like displays of talent often delivered through his eloquent, poetic and often acidic tongue. This time he decided to almost muzzle himself,quite literally at times, in order to tell this particular story. How? You ask. Only by using superb skill in other mediums such as mime, dance and physical theatre can this be achieved and achieve it he does.
Jonzi hilariously morphs into 5 different characters in order to represent the different view points and perspectives he in-countered in response to his MBE letter. The script was almost entirely verbatim and costume and props are used sparingly but extremely astutely. It is only jonzi’s poetic craftsmanship, physicality and use of the space that completes this piece. He makes it look effortless but those of us who have done any live theatre can imagine how hard a one man/woman show would be. It seems His own point of view on the letter is only ever shown in between each characters' monologue, like an interlude or transition point which is always movement based with no spoken word. This has a strong effect making the audience very thirsty for enlightenment. Which I'm sure is exactly how he intended it.
Throughout the piece there are blatant references to his "weed smoking" and during the post show QnA he even goes as far as admitting that during a live performance he sold a "£20 bag" in character on stage in front of a live audience. I think it was the only time during the course of the evening that there was nervous laughter and furtive looks at the door from the audience. It’s as if we expected the queen herself to burst in and take back "her" letter and arrest us all.
During the show you are revoted to your seat and the hour long piece feels like no time at all. I went in almost 99% sure what his decision about whether to accept or decline the MBE would be and I was right, however seeing and hearing his experience through the perspective of others was such a treat and a rare glimpse into the world of an MBE candidate.
Whoever you are, whatever your affiliation to the arts or "the empire" you need to see this and it won't disappoint.