The Stasti Theatre company present their ever pertinent new production Misidentity at the Lost Theatre in Vauxhall, South London; a play seeking to challenge the pervasively negative perceptions of teenagers, in particular those from less than ideal social backgrounds. ‘Behind every stereotype’ reads the tagline ‘is a person. Behind every person, is a story’. True, some stereotypes have a shred of veracity but even then, as Misidentity sets out to remind us, life is far more complicated than mere stereotypes can reveal.
Using a mix of prose and poetry, this multi-layered piece follows the beautifully entangled, if not exactly rosy, story of a group of school kids; most of them from the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks, all of them friends, enemies or lovers. They are bookish, bolshie, sensitive, foulmouthed, boy-crazy, independent, mindless followers, freethinkers…
Mike T (Reuben Webb) has dreams of playing basketball stateside – that’s if his alcoholic mum (Abbi Kennedy) doesn’t sabotage his plans first. Sweet-natured Patrick (Gabriel Pessoa) enjoys studying much to the disgust of his friends; starry-eyed Grace (Georgia Brinklow) is loyal to the scurrilous Michaela (Kimberley Scott); Chontell (Sarah Cherkowey) juggles motherhood with schoolwork and keeping her baby father a secret; mouthy Tom (Paul Jaramenko) won’t get off disgraced ex-pupil Stefan(Ryan Lester)’s case and will live to regret it; Church boy Emmanuel (Jo’el McLean) tries to keep the peace between best friend Mike T’s crew and that of belligerent Kai (Aaron Deacon); Tyrone (Anyebe Godwin) and Naomi (Princess McDonnough) are besotted with each other; her unhappy home life causes Naomi to seek total solace in the relationship.
Misconceptions abound, not just from the outside world but within the very circles of friendship too. It’s only a matter of time before the truth comes brutally to light.
The brilliant, wholly committed cast (all of them donating their time completely free of charge) give un-self conscious, organic performances delivering great dialogue with aplomb; from fantastically witty banter to movingly candid monologues thanks to Stephanie Fynn and Hasti Mobasser’s insightful script*. [*There’s a glossary at the back of the programme for those of us not totally au fait with the slang. ]
As directors, they are happy to let the cast’s natural camaraderie shine through; a judicious move. Successfully pulling it off like a couple of old hands, it’s hard to believe this is Mobasser and Fynn’s first theatrical endeavour.
The Lost Theatre itself is a most conducive space for the project, balancing the intimacy of fringe with the aesthetic appeal of an uptown venue.
Taking on the task of shattering stereotypes without giving in to the urge to sermonise is a tricky one. Misidentity doesn’t entirely avoid this tendency yet its aim is not undermined by it. If anything the play is further proof that some of London’s most compelling theatre is being produced by its supposedly disaffected young. The story of inner-city youth need not be clichéd when it’s in the right hands as it so clearly is with the Stasti team.
Written and directed by Stephanie Fynn and Hasti Mobasser
Hazel Bawden – Mrs Thomas
Georgia Brinklow – Grace
Sarah Cherkowey – Chontell
Aaron Deacon – Kai
Anyebe Godwin – Tyrone
Michaela Hall – Sade
Paul Jaramenko – Tom
Emmanuel Jatto – Jermaine
Francis Don Joani – Nathan
Abbi Kennedy – Mrs Tyler
Ryan Lester – Stefan
Princess McDonnough – Naomi
Jo’el McLean – Emmanuel
Verity O’Gormon – Ria
Victoria Osayanetin Oshodi – Monique
Gabriel Pessoa – Patrick
Kimberley Scott- Michaela
Alex Simpson – Mr Snalvinatra/Jermaine
Reuben Webb – Mike T
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