Reviewed by Tony Peters
It’s something of a bold claim calling your play “a new kind of musical”. But while the idea of a disenfranchised youth fighting against a system that has all but given up on them is not totally new, this is a powerful, sometimes brutal and often moving work.
Taking a 2012 Edinburgh Fringe piece by Scottish composer Finn Anderson, writer Sarah Henley and creative director Tori Allen-Martin have re-worked the idea and set the action in South London at the time of the summer riots.
There we find an all too familiar tale of young people with no hope trapped in a seemingly unavoidable spiral of violence, drugs and fractured relationships whose only solution is to rage against the machine and stick it to the man.
We have Robyn (Sian Louise) who lives with an addict parent but can find no comfort outside of her home life as she helplessly watches her boyfriend Rick (Brandon Henry) take the same destructive route.
Then there’s Lily (Alexandra Da Silva) awaiting the birth of her first child at just seventeen but trying to stay optimistic and make the best of her lot amid the madness.
Just two of the people trapped in a desperate situation that is only ever going to end in tragedy.
The only person who looks like coming out unscathed by adopting a stance of self-preservation is the cold and calculating Skinner, a terrific performance of calm menace shot through with moments of dark humour by James Kenward.
It’s all expertly staged by director Adam “Bo” Boland, and the wonderful choreography by Kamilah Beckles and Ryan-Lee Seager blends into the action seamlessly, enhancing by turn moments of aggression and tenderness.
The play is sound-tracked rather than sung by the cast, with Tori Allen-Martin providing some excellent vocals alongside Benedict, Ambra Caserotti, John McCrea, Ben Cousin and accomplished beatboxer and wonderfully named Pikey Esquire.
Streets fits the Cockpit Theatre superbly; the tiered seats surrounding the performance space on three sides like a gladiatorial arena with us the audience as society having the power to give these hopeless souls the thumbs up or down as they fight for survival.
It’s a compelling and provocative piece of musical theatre brilliantly acted throughout by a talented young cast and it certainly lives up to its claim of bringing the genre bang up to date.
Directed by Adam “Bo” Boland
Original concept, music and lyrics: Finn Anderson
Revised book, concept and character development:
Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley
Choreography: Kamilah Beckles and Ryan-Lee Seager
Robyn Sian Louise
Rick Brandon Henry
Skinner James Eyres Kenward
Officer Brookes Christina Murray
Tommy Stuart Morris
Lily Alexandra Da Silva
Max Thomas Wright
Jason Ben Astle
Squirt Jake Leigh
Riley Alex Morrison
Kyle Alexander Kiffin