Red Pitch ★★★★ @sohoplace | Mar 15 - May 4, 2024

Three friends are at a turning point in their lives. For sixteen-year-olds Joey, Omz and Bilal everything is changing. Secondary school is ending, the neighbourhood is being gentrified and QPR trials will soon determine if their professional football aspirations are going to be realised. Tyrell Williams' play takes us into the boys' safe space. The red pitch represents security, camaraderie and control. This is the place the three can escape from their responsibilities in the real world and can dream. However, their banter, competition and bravado resonate an innocence that will soon be tested in the real game of life that lies ahead. After two sold-out runs at the Bush Theatre, all three actors are totally comfortable in their well-drawn characters, and they bring a brilliant authenticity to their portrayals. Emeka Sesay does a nicely understated job as Joey, the sensible one, who sees the need for a plan B in case the professional footballer route doesn't work out (no coincidence that he is the goalkeeper). Francis Lovehall is equally strong as the volatile Omz who is always on the verge of buckling under the responsibility of caring for his 81-year-old grandfather and his younger brother. And, as Bilal, Kedar Williams-Stirling beautifully balances the triumvirate. He is the compulsively competitive one who isn't sure if he's fulfilling his father's dream or his own. Writer Williams has created nicely nuanced characters and their language and behaviours ring completely true. The well-honed cast bring them to life with total credibility, and this coming-of-age story which is so skilfully played out scores big time.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Helen Murray

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