Theatre Review - Red Pitch

ONE of the hit fringe shows of last year and winner of multiple awards, Red Pitch returns to the Bush Theatre for a short run.

Tyrell Williams’ whip-smart play about friendship and football, is set on a south London housing estate. Three Black teenagers Bilal (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Joey (Emeka Sesay) and Omz (Francis Lovehall), meet whenever they can to play football on Red Pitch. Their dreams of stardom come ever closer when they begin training for QPR trials.

But beyond the football court, their community is changing. Local shops are closing, Morley’s chicken shop is now a Costa, old flats are being demolished as developers build new homes. Some residents are desperate to stay while others can’t wait to leave. The clatter of construction in the background (courtesy of sound designer Khalil Madovi) is a constant backdrop to the drama.

At 16, their futures are uncertain. If they don’t make it as footballers what other options do they have? Of the three friends, only Joey has a back-up plan – he’s “gonna do Business Law on the side”. Omz effectively cares for his grandad and younger brother. Beneath the banter and group rituals, tensions between the three begin to mount. Joey often mediates between the more volatile Bilal and Omz, but he is going to be the first to leave the estate with his family.

Daniel Bailey’s taut direction and the cast’s naturalistic performances immerse us in the action and we become invested in their hopes and dreams. The three actors show off their athletic skills and footballing prowess, while their stylised movement, directed by Dickson Mbi, is also excellent and the fight scene co-ordination by Kev McCurdy is so convincing as to produce gasps from the audience.

Red Pitch is as funny as it is affecting. Warmly recommended.

Until September 30