Friday, July 1

Red Pitch – Bush Theatre

This is an electrifying piece of theatre with a strong sense of community at its core. From the moment you enter the performance space, it is buzzing as the boys bounce around the stage, preparing for a match. You are plunged into their territory from the get-go and feel drunk on their energy and enthusiasm. Omz, Joey and Bilal navigate their worlds of South London as 16-year-old boys at an exciting, pivotal point in their lives. The play is a testament to the strength of friendship and the trials and tribulations of youth as well as an exploration of gentrification from the differing perspectives of these young people.

This outstanding play-writing debut by Tyrell Williams is a masterclass in comedy and authenticity. Williams truly captures the spirit of banterous teenage boys on the block and the delicacy of their friendship. Between petty arguments and jokes, heavier topics rear their heads, and these ebbs and flows feel like real dialogue. The characters are beautifully written, fully fleshed out with such a vividness and humanness, acknowledging both their flaws and their admirable qualities. It is hard to believe that they are not real people.

The performances from the cast were phenomenal with impeccable comic timing. Kedar Williams-Stirling, Emeka Sesay and Francis Lovehall embody their characters’ purity of youthfulness and refreshingly ambitious natures. All were highly attuned to each other with a rare receptivity and aliveness. Every breath and utterance felt organic and spontaneous.

Photo: Craig Fuller

With razor sharp direction from Daniel Bailey, the incredibly nuanced dynamics between the three made it all the more captivating and really brought out the humour in the dialogue from Omz’ bullish and provocative humour, to the easy-going Joey to Bilal’s self-assured, sharp wit. The movement pieces were meticulously choreographed with an impressive level of control and fluidity which saturated the vivacity of the characters.

The lighting designed by Ali Hunter and the sound designed by Khalil Madovi combined to create an intoxicating effect with the lights pulsating rhythmically, enhancing the upbeat tempo of the play. Set in the round, Amelia Jane Hankin’s stage is a football pitch with the audience sat in a stadium. Since the characters build up such a strong picture and sense of their world, the minimalistic staging allowed the script’s imagery to take over.

I was blown away by this powerhouse of a production, from the sheer talent of the cast to all of its intricate details. You don’t have to be a footie fanatic to love this. Its infectious vitality and poignant social reflections make this a show not to be missed.

Playing until the 26th March, tickets and further information can be found at https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/red-pitch/

Reviewer: Riana Howarth

Reviewed: 22nd February 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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