Southwark Playhouse (venue)
02 November 2019 (released)
03 November 2019
When you have the prize winning play (1,406 entrants to choose from) there is inevitably an expectation that it should be excellent. I am delighted to say that this play and production score on all levels.
Samuel Bailey's script and premise are so well crafted that it is difficult to believe that this is his first major success. The way that the plot and the dialogue switch from tension to humour is brilliantly handled . Each of the four characters is so individually defined, that they give this piece a rhythm and character development that is never clichéd and always totally engaging.
This is the story of three inmates in a young offenders institution that are risking ridicule and abuse to take parenting classes. Each requiring the skills and support to become new fathers once they are released. What is so engrossing is seeing these three get past their exterior bravado, and show a glimpse of real heart and the need for friendship. Josef Davies's Jonjo is the most inward looking and unnerving of them, and this is brilliantly portrayed through his physicality, and a stutter that has the audience empathising with him from the very beginning. Josh Finan's Cain is an excellently crafted, wise cracking 'Scouser'. He covers his insecurities with constant babble that give rise to much of the plays humour. Riyad (Ivan Oyik )has the respect of the other two, and the best opportunity and vision to make something of himself when released. He plays the layers of this character to perfection.
When their parenting teacher Grace( Andrea Hall) is added to mix, we see each of the boys begin to change. Right from her first entrance and stand-off with Riyad she establishes her character. It's another great performance revealing a wide range of emotions as she tries to help this disparate group.
The whole play is sensitively and cleverly directed by George Turvey, on a stark and well abused set designed by Jasmine Swan. Trapping them in the corner of the theatre space creates a great sense of claustrophobia.
It is so good to see such quality writing and mesmerising performances from a brand new piece of theatre. It demonstrates how important such companies as Papatango are in the encouragement and development of new writing in the UK and Ireland
This is a brilliantly told, powerful story of lost souls in a system that will inevitably fail them.