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Mad About the Boy

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.

The 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.

The 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 into silence.

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.

- Theo Bosanquet


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