by Tash Fairbanks and Toby Wharton.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 28 January 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (full-price tickets reduced online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 January.
Forcefully sympathetic central performance in well-acted play with a loud voice and a keen heart.
Teenage Gary’s well-nicknamed ‘Fog’, and not because his head’s in the clouds. His new home atop a dilapidated tower-block is no penthouse suite, as Georgia Lowe’s abstract floor and wall of chipped, distressed concrete shows. With the sawn-off, monosyllable-dominated sentences, here’s a return to the goods old days of in-yer-face drama.
Life’s in Fog’s face. Or such of life as he knows. Living in Milton Heights means no more to him than the other blocks named after England’s green and pleasant poets; it’s just a sniper’s vantage point. Except his dad, back from army service, has to put him right on rifles. Mum’s dead, older sister Lou estranged and Gary come from ten years in something called ‘care’.
Childish energy and hope keep bursting through 17-year old Gary. But it’s confused into a souped-up image of big-time drug-dealing and big cars, expressed with sudden violence or a rush that evaporates upon recoil. Easily disarmed when he produces a knife, his aggressive outbursts are unheeded calls for friendship; rejected, he backs off and curls away.
Loud rap and Black youth-speak, his attempts at belonging, cover Gary’s real voice: the cry of agony on finding he’s left his Super Mario at the hostel.
Neither his Black friend Michael, nor Michael’s sister Bernice, speak like this. Michael’s trying for Oxford, while Bernice knows to adopt a quietly submissive voice when practising for a job interview. Though Michael’s patient with his friend, their lives are travelling miles apart. As are Lou, Fog’s sister, and even his dad Cannon. Among the emotionally powerful moments is one where Cannon tries to disguise he’s walking away from the son he can no longer relate to, and Gary silently hands him his half-hidden luggage.
Finely-played in Ché Walker’s pacy production, there’s a one-way feel to the play. What it shows, it shows vividly. And co-writer Toby Wharton’s Gary fizzes and fizzles-out movingly. But everyone’s badged – Cannon with his holdall, Bernice with her interview rig-out, Michael with a textbook – a bit too neatly. Yet as a Cathy Come Home of the care system, Fog plays a powerful hand.
Gary: Toby Wharton.
Cannon: Victor Gardener.
Michael: Benjamin Cawley.
Bernice: Kanga Tanikye-Buah.
Lou: Annie Hemingway.
Director: Ché Walker.
Designer: Georgia Lowe
Lighting: Arnim Friess.
Sound: Edward Lewis.
Costume: Rachel Szmukler.
Fight director: Steve Medlin.