Oladipo Agboluaje’s new satire, set on the streets of south London, manages to transcend some of its more obvious stereotypes to provide an often hilarious, and often profound, snapshot of modern London.
Newly released ex-con Omo (Jimmy Akingbola) starts working with a Christian outreach organisation, but sees himself more as a new Messiah than a mere foot soldier. The people he meets aren’t interested in spirituality, though, but quick fixes for whatever ails them at the time.
The remainder of the small cast conjure up a busy, populous Brixton, full of caricatures that work because of the rich vein of humour throughout. Mark Monero and Javone Prince, in particular, excel in bringing many different archetypes to life, often effortlessly switching between recurring characters in front of the audience’s eyes. But it is Dona Croll as pole dancer Mary Maudlin who produces the performance of the evening.
Director Paulette Randall, with designer Libby Watson, recreates Coldharbour Lane in front of a huge backdrop of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting provides an additional, apt metaphor for the descent into chaos and revolution triggered by Omo’s actions.
The use of handheld video, incorporated into the painted backdrop, works less well, and at times distracts from the onstage action. And while the closing scenes of the play, which veer away from its humorous nature into an apocalyptic vision of a future Britain, do not carry the same force as those set in a very recognisable present day Brixton, the overall impression is of a very funny and thought-provoking piece of original theatre.
Reviewed for The Stage