Review: PlayFight, Theatre Peckham

Orísun Productions’ PlayFight is a tough and sometimes traumatic play at Theatre Peckham’s Peckham Fringe festival 

“Life is what you make it”

Tucking into the tail end of the Peckham Fringe festival at Theatre Peckham, Orísun Productions’ PlayFight comes with an age suitability warning of 15+, whilst offering up a punchy study of how there is no such age limit for when racism starts to weigh so very heavily on our Black children. Tough and at times traumatic, it’s a ferocious look at what we demand from them.

Written by Christina Alagaratnam from an idea by shereener browne, the play follows best pals Kai, TJ and Zara as they navigate those tricky teenage years with the added obstacle of societal racism making life that much harder for Kai and TJ. An incident at school tips off the dramatic trajectory here but only a fool would suggest that the problems started there.

To these hella Caucasian ears, Alagaratnam nails the South London teenage vernacular but more significantly, she finds a real voice for her characters too. The slight disbelief at how their teachers treat them differently to their white schoolmates, the frustration at parents who tell them to just acquiesce to stop and search if they’ve done nothing wrong, the intensity of their feelings when their own friendship is tested.

On a stripped-back stage, Leian John-Baptiste directs his young company of Cece Cox, Joshua Okusanya and Edward Kagutuzi with a real physical immediacy. And Okusanya and Kagutuzi, he coaxes performances of real emotional maturity that draw us right into the mental health minefield caused by their treatment. A late foray into metatheatrical commentary is pointedly effective but kinda left me wanting more of that rupturing energy to really make the play stand out more altogether.

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
PlayFight is booking at Theatre Peckham until 3rd June

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