By Alex Wheatle, adapted by Emteaz Hussain
A co-production between Pilot Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal.
Directed by Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson
Designed by Simon Kenny
Composition and Musical Direction by Conrad Murray
Sound Design by Adam McCready
Lighting Design by Richard G Jones
Young Consultant, Jeremy Muguwe
Pilot Theatre webcast 22nd April- 9th May 2020.
Viewing platform: https://www.pilot-theatre.com/webcast
Running time: 2 hours 18 minutes (including 10 minute interval). Review Mark Courtice
Age guidance 12+
Theatre’s lockdown online offer for the young audience has been a bit thin. Hurray then for this satisfyingly rich show; driven by Conrad Murray’s pulsating beat-box score, Alex Wheatle’s YA (Young Adult) novel is given a wonderfully energetic, fluid production.
Six youngsters have to cross territory held by a local gang to retrieve a compromising mobile phone. These are Knights Errant on a quest, trying to be young and decent in the world of gangs and knives. The clever parallels with knights of old means the structure has the strength of tried and tested storytelling and also there is real peril, that takes these people and their problems seriously.
The story is complex; there’s family breakup, loss, and loyalty, secrets and betrayal. This is pleasingly knotty, but it does mean that there are moments when the momentum falters, when its novelistic origins show. There is a sequence after the interval which is very moving and interesting, but stretches our credulity while the “magnificent six” linger in enemy territory.
The company are hugely talented, they glory in the visceral power of the music, the physicality of the dance. But most importantly, their characters are created with care and respect. The psychological details are right; from the sure and certain belief in the curative powers of hot chocolate to the constant presence of the church, this play is generous about teenagers and acknowledges the importance of parents.
The production is pacey, well served by Simon Kenny’s graffiti covered set with a hard working revolve which betrays the origins of this show in middle scale touring – theatrical in the best sense. Filmed with economy, looking more like a theatre show than a film, the young audience this is aimed at will love it while the rest of the family can enjoy it too.
Aimee Powell Venetia/Yvonne
Kate Donnachie Bush Kid
Khai Shaw Jonah
Dale Mathurin Nesta
Olisa Odele McKay
Nigar Yeva Saira
Simi Egbejumi-David Festus/Dad/Sergio
Zak Douglas Bit
All music and raps created by Conrad Murray and the Crongton Knights Ensemble including Marcel White.