Arinze Kene's play Little Baby Jesus is a lyrical triptych of monologues about three inner-city teenagers. It was first performed at Oval House Theatre, London, on 25 May 2011 in a co-production by Oval House, BEcreative and the English Touring Theatre.
The play is set in present-day inner-city London, and is structured as three intercut, loosely connected monologues 'relaying the exact point that a teenager becomes an adult'. Kehinde is older than his years, a boy with an innocence and a passion for mixed-race girls. Straight-talking Joanne has a lot of attitude, but she also has to cope with her mum's mental illness. And Rugrat, the class clown, underachiever and playground loudmouth, who just wants to be part of the gang. The play traces the lives of the three teenagers as they take the difficult path to adulthood.
In a short article about the play published on the publisher's blog [http://nickhernbooksblog.com/2011/06/03/london-via-lagos/], Kene writes, 'For me, growing up was all a battle between who I was inside and who I thought I should be – in order to fit in. It went from the trainers I wore right down to the type of girls I was meant to fancy (In Little Baby Jesus, in Kehinde’s case, it’s mixed-race girls, or ‘mixed-race-girl syndrome’). I dumbed myself down a lot to fit in, and don’t believe I gave up the front until after my teens – luckily there was still enough "me" left to salvage.'
The Oval House production was directed by Ché Walker and designed by Chris Gylee, with Fiston Barek as Kehinde, Seroca Davis as Joanne and Akemnji Ndifernyen as Rugrat.