Monday, 28 March 2011
our style is legendary
As we arrived in the Tristan Bates theatre, the swinging man on the stage was already swigging a tin of lager and starting a half engaged conversation with some of the audience. We could see the concrete walls reminiscent of a rebuilt town. We knew it was Nottingham, but it could have been plenty of other places too. The sort of town with a sprawling bus station, maybe a largely concrete shopping mall and what gets referred to as mixed housing stock.
Soon there was a music track. Eighties hip-hop and the start of the action. Two kids meet. Both riding Raleighs, one a chopper, the other not quite. They are from different parts of the town. They have their evening meals at different times. The black guy eats at four. The white guy at seven.
They talk about music. They agree to swap music tapes (remember them?). They decide to sniff stolen aerosols together. And so it starts. A friendship, and the turmoil of making way through late school years in a provincial town.
Daniel Hoffman-Gill's writing cuts through. There's little sentimentality but an affection for the characters. They are sharp. They each have a style. They each make a statement. It's a kind of shorthand for people we've all known. Growing up, filtering differences. Trying to make a kind of sense even when the folk around don't match. Seeing how it can change one. To fit in. To be part of the posse. Even a quite small posse with some ragged edges.
Daniel sets questions in his writing. In the manner of an early Chekhov he is using street stories to make a point harshly and leaving the audience to think of the answers.
And also in the manner of a Chekhov, Daniel presents a weapon. Not in the first act, but soon enough for one to be able to surmise it's destiny.
So there's enough here to create thought and discussion. It's Poles Apart from another piece of Daniel's writing which suggests a flexibility and creativity being used within the boundaries of a still small theatre space.
And what about the rest of it? Strong ensemble acting. James Hooton's shadowy one man chorus to create a kind of back beat narrative. The two friends (Dimeji Sadiq and Jarrod Cooke) one of whom morphs considerably in the influence of the other and the grey blank surroundings. A further disturbed individual dressed in a shell suit graffiti (played by Kent Riley) who ratchets the tension. The girl (Annishia Lunnette) who provides a robust counterpoint to the boys and their toys.
A staging that emphasises the concrete. The back parts of a city. The places to go to sniff glue.
The music of a hip hop going on acid era. No guitar heroes allowed in these parties. But oh, to create a style. That is legendary.