Crystal Kisses: Avaes Mohammad and Sabrina Mahfouz
Contact Theatre, Manchester
Running Time: One hour and Ten minutes
Review: Sadia Habib
Forgotten Face in a Forgotten Place
A hard-hitting and gritty production that explores the shocking and harsh realities experienced by vulnerable and impressionable teenagers.
The star of the show is the talented Natalie Armstrong in her portrayal of the tough (on the exterior) but terrified (on the inside) Toyah – we are not fooled by her street-wise attitude and her explicit language – the brutal truth is that she is being exploited. Armstrong is amazing in her acting, in the choreographed dance movements and she also spits rhymes. Toyah is imprisoned in this space and this existence – and we yearn for her to escape. The constant disruption of her snatched moments of peace is expressed through the furious banging on the door. Armstrong’s memorable monologues are rhythmic and raw; her character’s discourse is of sex, loneliness and pain.
A soulful and melancholic soundtrack and beautiful choreography throughout the production – for instance Toyah recalling her new shiny pink shoes with slow moving feet; another the introduction of the articulate and ambitious Ally in the woods as she is looking over the horizon – like the world is her oyster.
We encounter the heartbreaking narratives of others; the bare stage neatly reflects the cold, lonely and empty existences of these youth. “I don’t want to do this anymore…”. Jay’s itching and scratching is a perfect metaphor for his physical distress.
The language of the play is real – we hear inner-city Manchester accents – “He’s never been out of Cheetham Hill”. And the ghetto slang of the streets – “butters Babs” and “sick garms”. The anxieties are vividly portrayed through the questions: What am I doing here? What’s gonna happen to me? What’s wrong with me?
Ally – Mandip Gill
Zed – Stephen Myott
Jay/Dee – Curtis Cole
Sham – Zariah Bailey
Toyah – Natalie Armstrong
Director – Benji Reid
Producer – Suzie Henderson
Lighting – Tom Dexter Scott
Sound – Andrew Wong
If you would like to discuss partnerships to take this performance and associated workshops to young people in other towns/cities – contact Danny Fahey on 0161 274 0624.