Crongton Knights, By Alex Wheatle, adapted by Emteaz Hussain: Pilot Theatre webcast until 9th May 2020. 4**** Mark Courtice

Crongton Knights

By Alex Wheatle, adapted by Emteaz Hussain

A co-production between Pilot Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal.

4****

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+

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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.

Cast

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.

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