Battling brothers, a soaring love scene and a fool worthy of King Lear, Arinze Kene’s Estate Walls skips majestically between the epic and urban in a story that would feel as comfortable set against a Grecian palace as it does the grimy city wall of its title.
Three boyish men bat language around like marauding lion cubs, catching and throwing rhythms and rhymes with an undulating skill and energy that sweeps you away. They are old friends finally reunited by the return of the lean Cain, a hard edged youth back from jail. Making up this street triumvirate is motor mouth Myles, played with comic joie de vivre by Ricci McLeod, who swaggers around bigging up his beauty. All the while third member Obi scribbles quietly away in his notebook, occasionally showing his claws and credentials by shooting damning zingers in Myles’ direction.
Into this clique bombs the frenetic Reggie (a brilliantly precise Huss Garbiya), a crack addict who trips delicately around the boys tight knit world and the eloquent Chelsea, the girl in the heart of more than one of these players. Both cause cataclysmic results.
Kene’s eclectic dialogue is a pleasure to listen to jumping from poetic to pithy and back again with remarkable ease and whipping its audience up into a vocal reaction to each barbed line or ego filled whistle. Che Walker’s direction forges a palpable bond between this rich language and the lithe, attitude filled postures of this powerful cast.
This is a strong debut for Inner City Theatre but although at points Estate Walls flies above the expected into the sublime it eventually lands, somewhat predictably, in the bosom of a conventional morality tale. For form alone however, it is well worth the ride.
- Honour Bayes