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11 September, 2019

Omar Musa starts with a vow: to tell us everything. And he does.

Utilising the death of his hero Muhammed Ali as a lyrical springboard, Omar Musa confronts suburban violence, lost love, his Malaysian heritage, and the dark realities of growing up as a brown-skinned Muslim boy in Queanbeyan.

And in this one-man show this one man, this large man with this large stage presence, steps lightly, like Ali, between verses of poetry and rap and storytelling.

And this one-man show is not a “one-man show” because a “one-man show” sounds like an art wank; an eisteddfod piece.

And Musa is not blowing smoke up his own chimney, though he affords every right to do so.

Omar Musa is – something else.

He is a poet and a rapper and a questioner of faith and a Muslim and “a brown man on a black land stolen by white men.”

He is a voice not often heard on stage, though he should be.

With a fresh perspective on contemporary Australia, the work is politically charged.

Politically charged but not aggressive.

Politically charged but not forceful.

Largely autobiographical, the work is moving and effective because it comes from a place of lived experience; a place of truth.

We encounter characters who subvert the stereotypical image of immigrants painted for us by white Australia.

There’s the Malay-Muslim father with the red-crimson eyes.

There’s the tender mother who teaches her “beautiful boy” to question everything.

There’s the loyal childhood accomplice; a victim of something more cynical than circumstance.

There’s Omar, and – in a white shirt and black jeans and without props – Omar is powerful.