Sunday, 31 August 2008

Turf, The Bush, 30 Aug 2008

`I stood in Shepherds Bush station for an hour on Monday morning. 8 o’clock in the morning, ‘cos I wanted someone to touch me, brush past me, bump into me - I don’t care; just human touch…’

Fitting, actually, that the one of the London "mayor" theatres that seems more interested in the reality of London and its different experiences, a theatre with an ear to the ground most of the time, would give us this very worthy exploration of life and loneliness and paranoia in the city.

The thing starts a bit hesitantly, with your typical mosaic of short scenes to illustrate the "short cuts" topography of London life. Which, sincerely, is getting a bit old, but it also shows the ADD theatre suffers these days, with the plays getting shorter and its words getting smaller. But then "Turf" picks itself up admirably, largely thanks to an exceptional -and exceptionaly young and yes, handsome- cast: Benedict Adeyemi, Doug Crossley, Emily Penn, Esther Shelmerdine, Rachel De-lahay, Rose Romain, Ruth Wanjuco and Shafiq Mirza were all excellent, although I got my eye on Ruth Wanjuco most of the time because, really, she is a jewel.

The play talks about big issues without being a issue play, which I was gratefult for. It tackles the city's paranoia without having to resort to the usual stabbing themes - seriously, if I see one more play about London and teenagers with knifes I'm going to explode; not that I didn't love "White Boy" or anything but enough is enough. I think that where "Turf" is a triumph is in its radiography of urban solitude from the personal. Each character was complex, ambiguous and believable (except maybe the drug dealer, that seemed underwritten somehow) and you cared for each of them.

In short: and excellent portrayal of the mind-numbing, soul-crushing loneliness of London, spoke from the personal but resonating to each member of the audience.

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