Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Tayo Aluko.
It can take a single moment to make a person’s life seem insignificant, to put down all their achievements with a dismissive sign of arrogance, of misplaced racial or gender inequality or presumed superiority, it can take that moment to possibly change that person’s life forever. Sometimes it can be though for the good as they strive on in their goal to become the better person, the one with ideals, honour and purpose in the community. Sometimes one just wishes to be an ordinary man, sometimes you become exceptional as Just an Ordinary Lawyer.
The life of the first Black Judge in England, Tunji Sowande, was one in which as a human being it is impossible not to reach out and be glad that the Nigerian born Queen’s Counsel made his way to London after World War Two in the hope of bettering himself and to pave the way for others to be inspired by him. Encountering extreme innate prejudice along the way but determined to enjoy life, to watch cricket and bring joy to others with his passion for singing, this very determined man changed his life and those around him forever.
Tayo Aluko is no stranger to bringing the lives of prominent black men to the stage, his acclaimed show Calling Mr. Robeson was a smash hit and deeply admired wherever he took it, yet this performance is something else, it seems somehow more relevant, possibly because it is so steeped and engrained in the British way of life. The sense of fair play that we try to install in our children, even if we have lost it ourselves, the message never more pertinent as refugees escaping persecution attempt to make a better life in the country and of course the love of cricket which can be spoken of in gentle thoughts of reminiscence, the memory of great players to whom fair play was essential.
Mr. Aluko may have only been performing this particular play for the first few times whilst in Edinburgh but the greatness of the man, both in the portrayal and in the actor himself, stands out, it radiates a welcome of cool, of respect that comes from the audience to both Mr. Aluko and his pianist Gus Carmichael as they entertain with absolute authority in this gripping monologue, punctuated with the absorbing singing voice that the actor displays with outstanding gravitas.
Just an Ordinary Lawyer is a superb play; a memoir of dedication from one great and inspiring man from another, Tayo Aluko always reaches out beyond the ordinary.
Ian D. Hall