Plays by Arinzé Kene

God’s Property

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinze Kene's play God's Property is about racial tensions in 1980s London, and was first performed at Soho Theatre, London, on 26th February 2013.

The play is set in 1982, in the kitchen of a small council house in Deptford, South London. The city is gripped by spiralling unemployment and inner city riots. Chima (late twenties) and Onochie (mid teens) are two mixed-race brothers, sons of an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. Returning home after a long spell in prison, Chima is horrified to find that Onochie has become a skinhead who no longer thinks of himself as black. Chima has been blamed for the death of a white girl and the hostile world outside won't rest until it delivers its rough justice. But will Onochie side with the community he's tried so hard to belong to, or stand by the brother he barely knows?

The Soho Theatre production was directed by Michael Buffong and designed by Ellen Cairns. It was performed by Kingsley Ben-Adir as Chima, Bradley Gardner as Liam, Ash Hunter as Onochie, and Ria Zmitrowicz as Holly.

good dog

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinzé Kene's good dog is monologue play that chronicles growing up in a multicultural community in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It was first produced by tiata fahodzi in association with Watford Palace Theatre, receiving its world premiere at Watford Palace Theatre, London, on 17 February 2017, before touring the UK.

The play is set in inner-city London in the early noughties. It follows a young black schoolboy, known only as 'Boy', as he chronicles his teenage years: the events which led him from a responsible but naïve outlook to a mood of bitter disillusionment that peaks around the time of the riots that took place in several cities across England in 2011, sparked by unrest in north London. Bullied at school, neglected at home, and conscious of the violence in his multicultural neighbourhood, the boy is plagued by the moral quandary of whether feeling good is a simple question of doing good. The ‘good dog' is supposed to always get its rewards - so why does this good boy never get a shiny new bike from his mum, but instead a beating-up in the playground?

The premiere production was directed by Natalie Ibu and designed by Amelia Jane Hankin. It was performed by Anton Cross.

Little Baby Jesus

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

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 [], 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.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinzé Kene's play Misty is a drama combining gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, exploring contemporary inner-city London, and confronting the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 21 March 2018, transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 8 September 2018.

The play begins with a character called 'Virus' performing a routine about London, which he likens to a living organism. His account of a violent incident on a night bus and its aftermath is intercut with sequences in which 'Arinzé’ wrestles with the story he wishes to tell, derided by his friends and family who complain that he is writing a play that caters to white expectations of black lives.

The Bush Theatre production was directed by Omar Elerian and designed by Rajha Shakiry. It was performed by Arinzé Kene, with Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod as the Musicians, and Mya Napolean and Rene Powell as the Little Girl. 

Picture of Arinze Kene

Arinze Kene was named most promising playwright by Off West (Offies) for his debut play Estate Walls which ran at the Ovalhouse Theatre, London. English Touring Theatre’s co-production of his play Little Baby Jesus was nominated for two Off West End Theatre Awards – Best New Play and Best Male Performer. He was also shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award in 2009. Arinze was a member of the Young Writers’ Programme at the Royal Court Theatre and part of the 2012 Supergroup, during which time he wrote Hoop and Harm. He has been a member of Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Group and participated in their HUB writers’ programme. He was one of the inaugural Soho Six, a selected group of six writers who are commissioned and are in residency for a six-month period to work on a new play for Soho Theatre. During his residency Arinze wrote God’s Property. Kene is part of the writing team on E20 for EastEnders/BBC. In 2012, he was a Pearson Writer-in-Residence at Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Arinze’s play Hackney Baths was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 during the London Olympics. He has just completed writing a film for Film London entitled Seekers.