Shook, Southwark Playhouse - ★★★★★ - Until November 23, 2019


This is an amazingly realistic look at three teenaged lads awaiting imminent parenthood, whilst incarcerated in a young offenders institution. Brilliant writing and acting lift this piece well above the usual 'prison play.' The irony of young people being taught to nurture who have never been nurtured becomes a devastating condemnation of how some of the most vulnerable in today's society are treated. Samuel Bailey's play, which won the 2019 Papatango prize for new writing, veers successfully, if sometimes uncomfortably, between laughter and tragedy. The dialogue is sharp and true. Cain, for whom anything is an improvement on life outside, is played with fantastic energy by Josh Finan; he is wound up so tightly he seems constantly about to explode; the speed of his delivery and his physicality are astounding. Josef Davies as Jonjo brilliantly conceals his inner turmoil and hopeless search for love behind a stammering facade. Ivan Oyik is tremendous as Riyad, ostensibly the least damaged of the three but he too has his own demons. Grace, their parenting coach played by Andrea Hall is a haven of calm; she provides the catalyst but even she doesn't escape unscathed. George Turvey directs with well controlled verve in Jasmine Swan's excellent grimy set. Even though it begins with plenty of laughter the play comes into its own when the smiles were wiped from the audience's faces. Writing like this and performances like these ensure the brightest of futures for British theatre.

Reviewed by D.S.J.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until November 23, 2019
Mon - Sat: 8 pm, Tue & Sat: 3:30 pm
Southwark Playhouse
Nearest tube: Elephant and Castle
https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/shook/

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