REVIEW: Mad About The Boy, Lantern Theatre

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THE first season of the new-style Lantern ended on a real high with this sizzling piece of writing from Gbolahan Obisesan, a winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First award.

Two men and a teenage boy stand on a stage facing the audience, conducting a series of conversations that track a young black man’s descent from wannabe hardman to young man mixed up in a criminal act that has him behind bars.

We see how he, his anxious single dad and caring school counsellor react to events through a fantastic, sharp script that moves seamlessly between the characters, each bouncing off the others.

The actors – Bayo Gbadamosi as the Boy, Dad Jason Barnett and Man Simon Darwen (the white teacher/counsellor) – riff brilliantly off each other, never missing a beat. The scene between the dad and son at the end, when they look at each other for the first time, is electrifying.

Clearly this is a timely piece, against the background of last year’s inner-city riots and stories of gangs giving young men the respect they demand that they do not find in the wider society, and its tone is bang on. All three express succinctly how they feel about the situation, the adults veering between despair, frustration and anger, the young man showing a surprising tenderness towards a young woman he encounters that belies the tough exterior he portrays to the world.

As the man next to me said: “That was intense!”

Julia Armstrong