Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

Excluded @ St Saviours Church (Play Review) Excluded @ St Saviours Church (Play Review)
Excluded @ St Saviours Church (Play Review)

Permanent exclusions continue to rise, but not as sharply as in previous years. For the academic year 2017/18, an average of 42 pupils was excluded daily, totalling just fewer than 8,000 for the year.


The issues behind these the grim statistics that the latest production by youth theatre Intermission hopes to reveal in their latest production ‘Excluded’.


Excluded is a powerful and urgent piece of new writing that uses Shakespearean verse and characters to delve into the lives of our young people in education and holds a mirror up, unearthing their issues and exposing a system that ignores some of the most vulnerable in our society.


So we see the conflict between Caesar (a charismatic Alexander ‘X’ Lobo Moreno) and his friend turned arch rival Brutus and co-conspirator Cas (Batanga Bokula) plot to ambush and harm Caesar only for the plan going horribly wrong with their school teacher (Ashley Hodges) been stabbed accidently by Brutus’s brother, Cinna (Tane Armachei Siah).


The production consists of many short scenes classroom scenes in which each actor ‘freezes’ to inform the audience of their Shakespearian character and its relevance to the play and plot.


We glimpse the courtship between Romeo (Kai Jerdiou) who despite been warned fall in love with bewitching new girl Juliet (Pai Kara Lexi Somerby) whose gang are ‘beefing’ with Romeo’s. Later a clash between the groups occur which results with Romeo being on the run after stabbing a rival member.


Director and writer Darren Raymond said of the production “I wanted to transplant some of Shakespeare’s characters into a school and see how they might have performed.


This production aims to explore the relationships they might have developed that could have compelled them into the moments when we meet them in Shakespeare’s plays – all the while shining a light on the urgent issues our young people are facing in education today.”


The latter we see vividly as the teacher tries with little success to explain to the rowdy class the benefits of a good education only for Hamlet (Oliver Knight) to have an explosive outburst questioning the relevance of schooling when he like many others are dealing with major issues that school cannot solve. In his case the anger he feels as a consequence of his mother marrying his Uncle whilst he’s Dad body is still warm in his grave.


This is where the cleverness of the writing and the amazing acting skills of these young cohorts really shine through. How they are able to get underneath into the sometimes often complex minds of these Shakespearian characters and transforming and deconstructing them into every day urban language that was just breathtakingly appealing.


The play touches on the tension between Iago (Roshana Roberts) and Othello (Andrew Senesie) and their battle for supremacy being played out in the confines of the classroom and playground.


As well as Lady Macbeth (Destinee Bishop) .lust for power by encouraging her boyfriend Macbeth (Shackiem Keen), who is portrayed as a small time drug dealer to topple his kingpin boss Duncan to take control of the drug trade in his area.


Overall it was a fine production by a great set of actors, that was let down by a couple of factors. Firstly many of the scenes were too rowdy for the dialogue to be heard clearly. With over 23 actors on stage sometimes all at once, it was very hard to hear the actors when they were speaking in verse.


Secondly the subtleties of play would only be fully appreciated by those familiar with the plot lines of many of Shakespeare’s plays, and I’m sure there weren’t many of those in the audience.


Notwithstanding it’s another great production from Intermission Theatre and its extremely laudable vision who since 2008 have been  making the Bard’s plays accessible to a demographic that wouldn’t ordinarily have given these world renowned stories the time of day.


Excluded, Till 30 Nov, Intermission Theatre, St Saviour’s Church, Walton Place, SW3 1SA, 7.30pm £13-20 (conc) https://intermissiontheatre.ticketabc.com/events/excluded/


 Pic credit- Richard Jinman




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