by Daniel Hoffmann-Gill.

Tristan Bates Theatre 1A Tower Street WC2H 9NP To 2 Apruil 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2pm.
Runs: 1hr 30min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7240 6283.
Review: Carole Woddis 14 March.

A real roller-coaster.
Our style is legendary. It certainly is. In Daniel Hoffmann-Gill’s dark, roller-coaster inner-city comedy, Swinging Man saw his mother hanging from the light at the age of 10. Later he took a knife to teenagers who had been goading him whilst working as a supermarket security guard. Danny’s father beats him up and bullies him. His best friend, Michael, has no father-figure. They share doubts as to whether they’ll get a meal at the end of the day. And much else. Danny and Michael get high sniffing Old Spice, cider, whatever comes to hand. Stone goes round threatening with a knife, dreams of Robocop and finally puts a gun to his mouth. Shelley, Danny’s schoolfriend, can only look on in despair at Danny throwing his life away.

This is Nottingham – not the Nottingham I knew growing up in middle-class safety in the 1950’s – but Nottingham in 1988. It could be the story of any inner British city.

Developed with Nottingham Playhouse but as yet unstaged by them, actor/script-writer Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, taking his cue from a true story, is producing it himself in London. Such initiative deserves to reap rich rewards. I hope.

For what an eye-opener it is. Hoffmann-Gill’s dialogue ranging from expletive-fuelled demotic to urban lyrical, catches all the instinctive humour and hopelessness of lives scarred by neglect and booze. We’re in Jim Cartwright’s Road and Indie film-maker Shane Meadows’ territory. Wasted lives, lost generations.

`All things come to an end’, says Michael whose ambition is to wipe the memories. Move on. And feel as little as possible.

Drugs and petty crime – these are the daily ingredients that make up the fabric of Danny, Michael and Stone’s lives. And music.

On the Tristan Bates’ tiny unpromising stage, Laura Farnworth’s sensitive production, inhabited only by flexible screens, nonetheless pulsates to the sounds of hip-hop icons Ice Cube and Ice-T. It is superbly acted by young local actors, Dimeji Sadiq, Annishia Lunette making stage debuts, by the more experienced Kent Riley, James Hooton and especially the subtle, heartbreaking Danny of Jarrod Cooke.

Anybody listening? This would make a great film.

The Swinging Man: James Hooton.
Michael: Dimeji Sadiq.
Danny: Jarrod Cooke.
Shelley: Annishia Lunette.
Stone: Kent Riley.

Director: Laura Farnworth.
Designer: Rich White.
Lighting: Andy Furby.
Lighting consultant: Andy Purves.
Script editor, consultancy andsupport: Ken Christiansen.

British premiere: 14 March 14 2011.

2011-03-15 16:46:24

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