Three generations are represented in Mad About the Boy, which has
already been heavily praised in other quarters and picked up a coveted Fringe
First at Edinburgh last year.
youngest - the eponymous ‘boy’ - is a cocky urban teen who’s got into
unspecified trouble. So his young school counselor has stepped in to help, mediating
between the boy and his anguished father.
three occupy independent spaces on the stage and deliver Gbolahan
Obisesan's poetic, interlocked dialogue at speed – so fast in fact that it’s easy to lose
occasional words and phrases.
The Boy has girl troubles, which at first
seem innocent and are played for laughs, but soon darken when he reveals he told
his friends she was “putting out”. What ensues as a result of this mindless
bragging is horrific, and stunned most of the teenagers around me last night
The counselor (an excellent Simon Darwen) demands the names of the perpetrators. The boy, in his straggly school uniform and trainers, won't give them. His father, taking a deeply morally ambiguous position, defends his son.
Obisesan's delivery of the play’s core message - that the casual
misogyny of contemporary gang culture can so easily escalate into something far
more sinister - is cleverly handled and builds briskly to a heart-wrenching climax. This is a short (50 minute), sharp shock of a piece that
hits its intended target, and young demographic, bang on the bulls-eye.
The rapid-fire delivery demands strong
focus, and I freely admit some of the references flew over my head. But the
performance of Bayo Gbadamosi in the central role is well worth the ovation
it received and Ria Parry’s production delivers an important message in an efficient and affecting package.
I only wish we could have stepped in and done a forum theatre-style examination of it afterwards.
This should be required viewing for every
teenager in the capital.