‘I had that dream again. Drowning and gasping but I’m trying not to think about it.’
Malachi’s been looking forward to a fresh start at uni for months. He’s settling in, he’s got a stack of books to read and he’s met someone new – Kojo, a musician with a megawatt smile, who’s basically perfect.
But something doesn’t feel right. He keeps having the same nightmare – sinking, crushed by the weight of the ocean – and it’s getting worse… A beast grows in the water, hungry, relentless, hunting him but always just out of sight. As the boundaries between nightmare and reality fracture, Malachi must fight harder than ever to stay afloat.
Kwame Owusu’s play Dreaming and Drowning is an intimate and visceral deep-dive into the boundless mind of a young Black queer man wrestling with anxiety.
It won the Mustapha Matura Award, was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, and was one of the winning plays in the RSC’s 37 Plays competition. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, in November 2023, directed by the playwright, performed by Tienne Simon, and produced by WoLab.
‘A visceral but lyrical look at anxiety and acceptance’
‘A joyful play that will leave you hopeful… funny, well-paced, and engaging’
‘Pithy, poetic, and viscerally evocative’
— Reviews Hub
‘Wonderfully life-enhancing… punchy and richly imaginative… delivers a double hit of theatrical dopamine… witty, contemporary and at times compellingly poetic… a fleet, gripping piece of storytelling… a little gem… a must-see for anybody interested in fine new writing’
‘One part truthful queer coming-of-age story, one part psychological horror, this engaging monologue takes an appealingly offbeat approach to themes of racism, anxiety and self-discovery… tautly paced and tightly written… laced with warm humour’
— The Stage
‘A gem… an intense experience… terrific’
— Arts Desk
‘Beautifully crafted… powerfully reinstates the urgency of storytelling in the formation of identity. Poetry, campus life and comedy blend into an emotionally moving concoction, exploring a black, queer student’s experience with great skill’
— Theatre Weekly
Mustapha Matura Award