six up

Crongton Knights

B2 Belgrade Theatre

*****

The B2 stage at the Belgrade Theatre has an excellent reputation and this piece is up there with the best, for the range and breadth, depth and richness of this drama.

I expected a piece about gang violence and, while violence is on the agenda, it only provides a backdrop. The characters are brilliantly and individually developed, the acting superb, fear palpable, music gorgeous, and humour and charm was, for me, such a bonus.

The story centres on Venetia (Aimee Powell – great voice, great dancer) whose ex-boyfriend Sergio has stolen her phone together with dodgy pictures. To retrieve means going into the Notre Dame estate, a rival gang’s territory where the wonderful Olisa Odele who plays McKay is in particular danger because his brother Festus (Simi Egbejumi-David) is a wanted man.

As the group, the newly named Crongton Knights, set off together by bus to ‘right the wrong’ like chivalrous knights of yore, their stories unfold. None of them is supported at home, many are supporting parents so damaged that the children support THEM.

Bushkid, with amazing hair and a gorgeous bluesy singing voice (Kate Donnachie), is the child of successful parents with no time but plenty of money. She loses her beloved bike to the rival gang and everyone loses their phones.

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Simi Egbejumi-David, left, Aimee Powell, Olisa Odele, Khai Shaw and Zak Douglas. Pictures: Robert Day

They have little money for a taxi and the driver has dishonourable intentions towards the girls. Saira’s (Nigar Yeva) take on the gangs is the most telling. She comes from Syria and real war makes a nonsense of their turf war. These are children working together to solve a problem that a street-wise adult would struggle to solve.

They mature as we watch. Jonah (Khahi Shaw) shows his fear and who wouldn’t with a knife held at his throat. Finally, Zak Douglas as Bit does an impressive job as a kind of straight man.

Written by Alex Wheatle and adapted by Emteaz Hussain, I loved this piece. It’s William Golding’s Lord of the Flies backwards and that’s a book that needs writing. McKay is a cook and the ‘chicken dance’ was a highlight as was the moment of calm on the bus when they simply looked around. I was amazed by the revolving stage, the clever lighting, beatbox and songs. This is a winner. Directed by Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson it runs to 22-02-20,

Jane Howard

11-02-20 

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