Writer: Gbolahan Obisesan
Directr: Ria Parry
Reviewer: Clare Boswell
Gbolahan Obisesan’s beautifully constructed and lyrical play, which picked up a prestigious Double Fringe First Award at last year’s Edinburgh festival, feels particularly poignant. Since the 2011 Riots, the microscope has very much remained focused on our country’s disenfranchised youth and who is to blame for this growing problem. ‘Mad about the Boy’ is an intelligent, fast-paced and engaging piece of theatre which raises many questions about respect, loyalty, parenting and gang culture and how quickly the boundaries between casual teenage fun and sinister assault can be blurred.
‘Mad about the Boy’ opens with a cocky teenager (known simply as ‘Boy’) and his anguished father who are meeting with a school counsellor whose rôle is to act as a mediator in the discussion about the Boys involvement in a recent incident. In this three-hander, each character represents a starkly opposing viewpoint. The Dad is of the generation where people “toed the line,” while the slightly more current counsellor admits “My generation tested the line,” However the Boy ascertains just how much the rôle of the teenager has shifted in society by proudly admitting “My generation cross the line,”
Obisesan has been particularly successful in painting three extremely complex and multi-dimensional characters. It would be all too easy to create a villain within this piece, but instead Obisesan has highlighted each character’s qualities and flaws allowing the audience’s empathy and sympathy to jump and shift throughout the 50 minute play. The lyrical language really helps elevate this play from a run-of-the-mill gritty drama to a production of tragic proportions.
Simon Darwen, Jason Barnett and Bayo Gbadamosi’s convincing and charged performances also complement the intelligent dialogue and coupled with Ria Parry’s confident, no nonsense direction, the production is an overall success. Gbadmosi is particularly brilliant, truly allowing Obisesan’s plosive and contemporary language to come to life on stage.
‘Mad about the Boy’ is a powerful production which raises many important questions and even though it isn’t really able to offer answers to these questions, what it does is brings a very important issue to the theatrical forefront and one which the older and younger generation alike shouldn’t ignore.