Advice for the Young at Heart

The Door, Birmingham Rep

*****

WITH a hard backdrop of rioting London in 1958 and 2011, this slick production bridges two different eras with a dramatically tense script.

It is a sharp reflection of the morality of our current age and time with flawless performances from the entire cast.

The play focuses on Candice, a mixed-race girl with a desperate inner conflict of morality and loyalty. Equally, Sam, Candice’s deceased grandfather also presents us with a chilling dilemma in the midst of an earlier riot, for very different reasons.

Strong performances certainly give writer Roy Williams’ script all the more hard-hitting, especially from Alix Ross as the mesmerising Candice.

She sublimely captures the heartbreaking and raw experiences of the young gang-woman and truly opens our eyes. Through Ross’ performance, we are taken on a tragic and heart-felt journey, though misunderstood at the beginning, which leaves us feeling a sense of utter empathy by the end of the play.

Candice’s childhood friend, Clint, played by the loveable Adrian Richards offers a well needed spark of humour to the tense atmosphere. Richards presents a cute naivety at first, but perfectly shows profound transition from a bouncy teenager, to a fountain of deep emotion.

Richards and Ross are a mesmerising to watch as a duo, as are Matt Bradley-Robinson and Joe Stamp, who play brothers Sam and Kenny. Bradley-Robinson and Stamp give the audience a coarse and indeed shocking account of discrimination in 1958 London, allowing the connection between two eras to unfold in the mind. With the help of Williams’ strong writing, every actor gives the audience an individual account of the personal effects of two political conflicts.

Through Candice and Sam, Williams constantly reminds us of the chilling events that gripped the country from two generations.

The 2011 riots of London are still etched in our minds, with easy to reach footage and media coverage still current, which makes this play a perfect topic for young adults.

The distinct parallel between two eras only highlights Williams’ poignant exploration of the transformations of gang culture over time. Candice and Clint are teenage friends, living in the present whilst the elder Sam and Kenny are from the distant, but seemingly more real adult world of late 1950’s Britain.

With strong and heartfelt performances and moving writing, complete with excellent directing by Natalie Wilson, this is a play that needs to be seen. 03-02-14

Elizabeth Halpin

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