Tash is a sassy Black teenager, in many ways too bright for hr own good. She's a leader, not a follower and there are many like Zoë (Lauren Taylor) who want to be in her "gang". Seroca Davis gives her an appealing brashness, flame-bright and fiercely right for the red dress which will lead to a terrible quenching of life's fires.
The dress has been a birthday present from her brother Kev, just out of a young offenders' prison and with a genuine desire to go straight, even if that means a dead-end job in the local supermarket on the minimum wage rather than the richer pickings afforded by drug-dealing or robbery. Kev knows from experience where robbery can lead. He will now have to confront the dealers.
Marcel McCalla is heart-rending as Kev, a basically good person who finds each of his moves out of trouble blocked by a lethal combination of his own friendship obligations and circumstances twisted into tragedy by the weaknesses of just those of his contemporaries whom he has tried to help.
Just as teacher Miss Jules (Kay Bridgeman) is not really able to get through to the core of Tash and Zoë , so Angela (Ashley Madekwe), working at the supermarket while waiting to start a degree course in Manchester, can't achieve more than a superficial relationship with Kev. That is also true of Nathan (Ben Brooks), who certainly fancies Tash but wants to try-out for Arsenal even more.
Drug-dealing involves violence. Lethal violence. Jamal (Richie Campbell) is caught between needing to satisfy his supplier with the right amounts of cash at the right times and wanting to "look after" no-hoper friend Ryan (Glenn Hodge). This sparks the central tragedy and leads to an even more bitter dénouement.
Designer Ruari Murchison has provided a set featuring windowed tower blocks, (tellingly) without doors. Director Michael Buffong, choreographer Kat and fight director Renny Krupinski keep the action swift and crisp, much aided by Malcolm Rippeth's emphatic lighting, so that time and place are clearly defined.
- Anne Morley-Priestman (reviewed at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich)