Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Bullet Tongue Reloaded (Play Review) Bullet Tongue Reloaded (Play Review)
Bullet Tongue Reloaded (Play Review)

Many of us have seen newspaper or TV headlines of young people boys and girls going missing for day, even weeks only to resurface some unharmed, but traumatised from the effects of being caught up in UK’s growing ‘country lines’ drugs phenomenon.


Writers Andrew Day and Sonya Hale latest production for  ‘The Big House’ give us an insight the murky world of ‘country lines’, where teenagers drug dealers fight for status, wealth, love, survival, and the simple right to be heard.


With her mother recently deceased,  17 year old Bumper is back on the streets, aching to make a name for herself. When she puts a drugs proposition to the local drug overlord, little did she know that the consequences would spiral beyond her control.


Freelance journalist Yasmin, is determined to make a video that gives these young people caught up in a world of crime, a voice.  A story that will help society understand how these seemingly young and innocent youths can knowingly and inadvertently be drawn in the dangerous world of drugs and violence.


With faces hidden behind a bizarre variety of masks, gang members recounts on camera the variety of reasons they were drawn into as they put it ‘high risk, high rewards’ lifestyle that chillingly and seemingly ends in either prison or death.


As one of the gang members says: “You know the second I put one foot on the pavement the game is on – like it or not. The opps could be up in my face, with a blade or with a bullet. We is all in the game, just like we was wearing a shirt with our names on. In the game, from young.”


Much of the play centres on giving the audience a glimpse of how the dealers go about their work, maintaining through bloodshed and intimidation a drug distribution networks extend from urban centres into suburbs and small towns across the land.


Gangs recruit vulnerable children as young as 11 to move drugs and money for them, using social media. Reinforcement of territory and payment of debts being carried out through violence.


The play culminates in Bumper and several other members leaving the gang life to start afresh after witnessing  a brutal gang rape and taking part in an appalling humiliation and near murder of Bumper’s stepfather.


Bullet is immersive theatre at its most creative. Set over three floors we watch the actors play out their roles in a dark and dingy ‘trap house’, an underground illicit nightclub, contemporary London flat and a rusty seaside caravan. Each setting coming cleverly with its own sound and scent.


With such a fine cast, it was impossible to single out any single actor. They all worked so well together that high praise must go to director Maggie Norris, for getting such amazing performances out of these young actors.


Big House’s mission is to work with socially excluded care leavers through drama. From the depth of emotions and drama actors each brought their roles, it was quite clear that they had experienced these situations first hand or know those who had.


This is raw, grimy but important theatre and storytelling at its best. I urge all parents, their children and anyone in society at large that cares about the consequences of this outlawed economy on our young people to see this play.


Bullet Tongue Reloaded is a must see unflinching look at an aspect of modern life, society tries to ignore without success. Well done to Maggie Norris and her team at the Big House, looking forward to your next production.

Photo credit: Dylan Nolte

22 May – 15 June 2019, The Big House, 151A Englefield Road, London N1 3LH  https://billetto.co.uk/e/bullet-tongue-reloaded-tickets-349404

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