Last night, I made my first ever visit to Kentish Town and the Lion & Unicorn theatre. I was there to review a new musical, Zip, written by a small team headed by the theatre’s artistic director, Ray Shell.
I wish I could say I liked it more than I did. Inspired by the increasing number of needless deaths due to knife and gun crime, there seemed to be a rage at the heart of the piece that needs an outlet. However, like all too much real rage, it was unfocussed and seemed to strike out in so many directions that there was no killer blow.
If it’s treated as a work in progress, some further refinement would make it all the stronger. As it is, the most emotional and affecting moment comes right at the end, after the cast have taken their bows, as they each dedicate their performance to one person who has been killed on London’s streets. Alongside Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor and Ben Kinsella were names I did not recognise, people I will never know. When the list of names ends, I could sense the anger, the sorrow, the determination of the young people on stage to try and do something about it. I hadn’t felt that during the play, unfortunately.