Custody, by Urbain Hayo a.k.a. Urban Wolf
Ovalhouse, until April 8
70 minutes, no interval
Review: Tom Aitken, 29 March
This fast-moving and powerful drama is based, we are told, on Urbain Hayo’s own experiences of being stopped and searched by the Metropolitan Police. The play adds in the further development of being taken into custody. It seems that the play’s development of this experience and the effect it has on the victim’s family is also drawn from incidents involving the police and a great many young black people in the locality and the effects these events have on the victims’ loved ones.
The essence of the narrative is that such arrests create havoc in the victims’ families––and most of the action we see is noisy and painful, although much of it is funny as well.
The cast of four play a mother trying to make a life for the son and daughter who remain at home with her, and the lover of the incarcerated young man.
The mother tries, mostly unavailingly, to keep the lid on the boiling saucepan and to persuade the youngsters to believe that the sensible course of action would be to wait peaceably for the arrested man’s release.
Unsurprisingly, she is on a hiding to nothing and events end badly.
Oval House theatre clearly attempts to present the difficulties of life in the area and to persuade audiences to deal calmly with those difficulties.
Unsurprisingly, however, no happy ending is available.
The play is very well staged and directed. A racially mixed audience listened and watched with fiercely close attention, recognising, I would think, the underlying truth of the story being told. The acting is very effective and affecting.
The end of the play led to a standing ovation.
The theatre, OvalHouse derives its name (if you haven’t worked this out already) from the test cricket ground across the road, so it’s not difficult to find.
Director: Sinead O’Callaghan
Musical Director Rory Quinn
Lighting: Gregory Jordan
Brother: Urbain Hayo Mother: Karlina Grace-Paseda Lover: Sacharissa Claxton Sister: Kiké Brimah