*At the start of John Oluwole Adekoje’s play, the main character Ace (Anthony Vander), in his underpants alone, recounting the lifetimes of a black man from slavery to civil rights and beyond, seems to promise a spiritual reconnection with ancestry and a tale of rites of passage. The posters though, are more befitting of the plot.
In this round, the American ‘boxer’, Ace is in the fight of his life to live and be alive. But his opponents in the ring of life are an abusive father Moses (Darren Raymond), a criminal and disabled brother Solo (Tommy Coleman), a wife Amy (Eliza Anderson) wanting a baby and to break away from his family, and a mother Rebekah (Nakeba Buchanan who starred in Dead Man Running alongside 50 Cent) and sister Trisha (Dubem Nuabe), who are desperate to break a cycle of abuse and poverty.
The largely British cast (Coleman is the only American) pulls off American accents well. But with such a large cast accompanied by a complex storyline, the audience must work hard to stay aboard Adekoje’s ship. The wind in its sails is fanned by Coleman’s quips and Buchanan’s presence among other things. But the audience is left wanting more from the characters.
Though stories of gun crime, race and ‘snitching’ are old territory, what is most fresh about the play is the way that Director Prav MJ presents the next generation of the family. The mysterious boy played by Caleb Frederick awaits his calling and has you guessing about his identity.
The stage is sparse except for the turntables and graffiti by artist EdgE: ‘Life’, ‘Chaos’, ‘Death’. A raw hip-hop soundtrack is characterised in the play by DJ Elegba – hype man and referee. Hip-hop complements Adekoje’s poetic style well.
With the likes of Hollywood actor Idris Elba rumored to be catching the show it may be worth buying a ticket while there are still some left!
Six Rounds continues at the Lost Theatre until 2 July. Tickets are £7 / £5 concessions. Show starts 7.30pm. For more on Six Rounds visit: www.pravmjdirect.com.
The UK Corner covers urban entertainment from a British perspective and is written by Fiona McKinson ©. She is a freelance journalist and creative writer based in London. Contact her at [email protected]. For more entertainment visit her blog: http://www.thetalentshow.co.uk/theukcorner/