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John Rwothomack is note-perfect in this profound one-man performance about childhood innocence and war, neatly directed by Mojisola Elufowoju.

18 February 2022 at
John Rwothomack as Okumu in Far Gone Photo by Leon Ngeleka 3 web
Smart Banda

Written by and starring John Rwothomack, Far Gone is a powerful one-man play about a young boy’s journey from childhood innocence to childhood soldier. Set in Northern Uganda, the play unfolds from moments of impish glee to haunting terror.

Neatly directed by Mojisola Elufowoju, a show like this is always going to live or die on the central performance. Thankfully the Sheffield-bred Rwothomack is note-perfect throughout; whether portraying a scared child, a seasoned solider or, in a particular highlight, the General of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

With little but a few square metres of sandy floor as a stage, Rwothomack invites the audience into his world in a way that cranks up the tension as the story hurtles towards its climax. The performance forces a level of interaction which leaves the audience unable to remain passive, all of which adds further to the unease.

This is a distressing play. It's a measure of its power that I found it uncomfortable to clap at the end. It felt more like documentary filmmaking portrayed on an unusual canvass. That is not a criticism — but I certainly can’t recall seeing a performance that felt this voyeuristic, watching from the comparative comfort of our seats.

Whether designed to raise awareness of the situation abroad or showcase the considerable talents of its star, Far Gone is well worth an hour of your time to experience, in part, something most of us will likely never have to in reality. It's a potent, powerful piece.

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Far Gone runs at the Studio Theatre until Saturday 26 February. Tickets are priced at £15.

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