Breaking Baz: Tosin Cole On A Roller Coaster Ride Of Love In London’s West End & Rapman’s Game-Changing ‘Supacell’ Netflix Series

As far as the three young women sitting in row E at London’s Bush Theatre were concerned, the name of the character Tosin Cole was playing in Benedict Lombe’s “spicy” love story Shifters, wasn’t Dre — short for Dream — but “Dreamboat.”

It’s a double whammy of love, well, sort of, for Cole (Till, Bob Marley: One Love, 61st Street, Doctor Who), who also stars in Rapman’s game-changing Netflix drama Supacell, playing a love-struck south London courier who discovers he has developed superpowers.

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Adelayo Adedayo and Tosin Cole in ‘Supacell’
Adelayo Adedayo and Tosin Cole in ‘Supacell’

Back at the Bush, one of the women leant forward and cried, ”Bring Dreamboat over ‘ere to me now!”

Those ladies swooning over him when I saw the play in late March added a surreal layer to Lombe’s two-hander about Dre and Des — for Destiny — played by Heather Agyepong, former lovers who meet again, after an eight-year gap, at Dre’s grandmother’s funeral wake.

She went off to make art in the U.S, he stayed in the UK to become a restaurateur.

Could you hear the audience sweet-talking to him, I wondered? “Sure, I mean it was quite intense,” he responds.

“Sometimes the commentary is so intense that you just can’t ignore it,” he adds.

Cole recalls one scene where he and Agyepong (The Power, This Is Going to Hurt) are about to embrace. ”Suddenly, they’re going, ‘Why didn’t she kiss him? Why don’t she do that?!’ ”

Sometimes he found the chatter “overwhelming” but reasons that it showed “the audience were super into it.”

Yeah, more like, super into him.

“It kind of helps the performance sometimes as well,” he says, ignoring the bait.

The night I caught up with Shifters in late March the auditorium was packed.

So it kinda makes sense for the Bush to be transferring the production, directed by Bush artistic director Lynette Linton, into the Duke of York’s Theatre beginning August 12 for a limited nine-week run ending October 12. It follows on from Jamie Lloyd’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet with Spider-Man’s Tom Holland and a superb Francesca Amewudah-Rivers.

Producers Eleanor Lloyd Productions, Chuchu Nwaque Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions are clearly hoping that all that affectionate oohing and ahhing from the audience will be replicated.

If audiences can go ga-ga over Leo Woodall in Netflix romance romp One Day, why not Cole the “Dreamboat?”

Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole in ‘Shifters’
Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole in ‘Shifters’

Indeed, there has been chatter about Shifters being adapted into a feature film, but it’s very early days on that score.

Cole doesn’t dismiss the chatter when I mention it.

For now, though, the play’s the thing.

It being a new drama, Cole and Agyepong were able to pepper Lombe and Linton with questions about Des and Dre when they first went into rehearsals at the beginning of this year.

They were also able to be quite open about their personal experiences or ones they’d heard about. “There was a lot of back and forth, script changes and last-minute tweaks” as the playwright listened to their comments. “She was quite cool in that respect, but she’s quite precise in the things that she wanted to keep and have in the play. But at the same time she’s able to shift things around,“ the actor says of conversions he and Agyepong had with the playwright.

Where they really got into it was during discussions about bumping into your ex. “And stuff like, do you still think about them from time to time? There’s nothing platonic about this situation,” he argues.

“You might be in a relationship and you bump into someone from your past when you’re shopping in [UK grocery chain] Tescos, and you’re looking good, and she’s looking good,” he says, treading carefully.

It’s a situation that’s dangerous for both of them, for reasons not to be revealed here. “It’s dangerous territory, which makes it even more spicy,” he adds with a gleeful smile.

But it’s a relatable experience. You might be a teenager, a young adult, or you might be divorced, then you see that person again. “I feel like we’re touching on universal themes,” he says.

That’s the key here and it may come as a revelation to some that people who aren’t Caucasian have the same kind of relationships as anybody else — it’s just that you don’t see such stories that often on stage or screen.

Do they even need to be labeled as “Black” this or that?

“It’s obvious that they’re Black, but Des and Dre just live a life as normal human beings. It’s just a story about men and women, We love each other. I mean, you take the blackness out of it and it’s just a man and a woman getting on with life and the relationship. Yeah, we’ve got to scream on about it. And, yeah, we’ve got to champion it, but sometimes I just want to say, we’re just showing this relationship between two people, and they just so happened to be Black.”

But to call it a Black love story, Cole feels “like sometimes you might put yourself in a category or a box by just labeling it. But sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by always labelling certain things.”

He mentions Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and how everyone can relate to that. The story’s just as relevant whether Willy Loman’s being played by Brian Dennehy or Wendell Pierce.

“We can watch an Arthur Miller play and we can see our lives with certain similarities. So why is it like, ‘Oh because it’s this type of person or that type of person we’re not going to understand,’ and I feel like art is so accessible, it’s so universal.”

He says that he had “grown ass white men” come up to him after performances of Shifters at the Bush, saying “Yo, that play moves me. I had white actors text me like “Yo, Bro, I saw myself within you. I’ve just literally been in a situation like that.” 

No need to slap a label on it, says Cole. “It’s just people telling stories about love and their experience.”

And no need to slap a label on Rapman’s spectacular six-part Supacell, streaming on Netflix from June 27, in which Cole stars as Michael, who’s head over heels with social worker Dionne played by Adelayo Adedayo (The ResponderGone Too Far).

Cole calls Supacell a “love story with super powers, with nuances” that he hopes will “make people a bit more open to our world and our stories.”

Tosin Cole in ‘Supacell’
Tosin Cole in ‘Supacell’

The heart of Supacell is how Michael “does all these things for the woman he loves and how far he’s willing to go. I mean, if he doesn’t have Dionne, there’s no story.”

He feels like “love is the key to all, basically.”

Putting on a “Dreamboat” smile, Cole says that the topic of love “seems to be my thing right now.”

Yeah, Mr. Love, that’s you, I suggest.

He likes that. “Mr. Love Cole, it’s got a nice ring to it,” he says brightly.

Love certainly plays a mighty role in Supacell. It’s a mighty mirror of our world. At times frightening, horrifying, terrifying, it’s also grounded, astutely observing class, culture, corruption and chaos in our society.

Rapman’s script ensures that each fantastical moment is underpinned by a realistic response.

So, what’s up next for Mr. Love Cole?

Tosin Cole
Tosin Cole

Currently he’s filming a role in director Kyle Balda’s (Minions, Despicable Me 3) film Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Movie starring Hugh Jackman as a shepherd who reads aloud murder mystery tales to his flock. When something happens to him, the woolly animals try and solve the crime.

Cole plays another shepherd in the movie, which also stars Emma Thompson, Nicholas Galitzine, Nicholas Braun, Molly Gordon and Hong Chau.

How are the sheep depicted, I wondered. Are they animatronic? “No, they’re going to be CG mixed with live-action,” Cole explains.

“It’s going to be so cool,” he enthuses.

After that, he’ll be back in love mode to prepare for Shifters’ move into the Duke of York’s Theatre. There might be “little tweaks here and there” but essentially it’ll be the same play that wooed audiences at the Bush.

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