King Hamlin by Gloria Williams. Park 2000, Clifton Terrace, London N4 to 12 November 2022. 3***. William Russell.

Reading it Gloria Williams play deserved its award as best full length stage play at the 2022 Scriptwriters & Co International Festival as she has a timely tale to tell about schoolboy Hamlin and his friends Quinn and Nic. But in spite of the young actors playing them giving undeniably striking performances one has no idea what they are saying as they gabble their lines at high speed – heaven knows what they were taught in drama school or what director Lara Genovese thought she was getting them to do. But communicating with the audience was not one of them. It is one thing to inhabit a character – the audience was treated to one of those seemingly eternal moments with the three on stage pointlessly and inaudibly joshing away before the play started, always a mistake – but an actor’s job is to speak to the audience, to articulate the words clearly and this was not happening. Maybe that is how these characters in reality would speak but this was a play. There is a good set, plenty – when you read the play – of interest but what was going on was dire. Why three stars? They are for the play. The cast does deserve credit for working hard, for injecting energy into what they do but if what they say is incomprehensible much of the time then something is badly wrong. Seventeen year old Hamlin’s father is dead, his mother, nicely done by Kiza Deen, is struggling to make ends meet, his school friend Quinn (Imaam Barwani) is wanting the good things in life and has brought along Nic (Andrew Evans), a muscle bound 20 year old who is into peddling drugs. You can pretty well take it from there – Hamlin gets dragged into a way of life that leads to disaster. Harris Cain delivers, speech apart, a good performance, but they all do. If this were a film subtitles would be required. But it is theatre in an intimate performance space.

Hamlin: Harris Cain.

Mama H: kza Deen.

Quinn: Imaam Barwani.

Nic: Andrew Evans.

Director & Designer: Lara Genovese.

Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.

Sound Designer: Edward Lewis.

Costume Designer & Creative Assistant: Elodie Chiper.

Production Photographs: Steve Gregson.

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