Tag Archives: Dickson Mbi

Red Pitch

Red Pitch


Bush Theatre

RED PITCH at the Bush Theatre


Red Pitch

“It bubbles with slang and a million references a second”

Red Pitch is back at The Bush to much fanfare. The first time around it sold out, won awards, and received great critical acclaim. It’s easy to see why. It’s a powerhouse of a play, and refreshingly rooted in its time and place.

The show follows three boys Omz (Francis Lovehall) Bilal (Kedar Williams-Stirling, now of Sex Education fame) and Joey (Emeka Sesay) who play football together, and dream of being scouted, even as their neighbourhood is uprooted around them.

It’s a play about gentrification, and the way that communities are being torn up, the souls of areas being scrubbed away and replaced with generic chain stores and luxury housing. But it’s told through these boys’ eyes, so the developers are ‘renewing endz’ and much of the discussion circles around the shutting of a favourite chicken shop. They’re charmingly innocent. It’s fresh, but it’s still angry.

Tyrell Williams’ script is fantastic. It bubbles with slang and a million references a second, building these teens up into completely believable characters. There’s no question of who these boys are, or where they’re from. In many ways the boys are very similar, but they have very different home lives, as well as different religions and levels of affluence. They’re united by their shared dream of becoming professional football players.

Daniel Bailey’s direction is dynamic and energetic. Footballs are dribbled across the stage – there’s a shockingly intense fight (directed by Kev McCurdy), which has the audience wincing and groaning. The performance is in the round, with the stage becoming a football pitch and each block of audience as part of the stands, there is fencing and barriers between us and the performers. There are flashing lights, like at a stadium (designed by Ali Hunter). Amelia Jane Hankin’s set is bare, it’s an empty pitch. This works very well, it keeps us connected to the action, but also gives a sense of voyeurism. We are watching, and to an extent enjoying, these boys’ struggle, which is especially powerful when they are unaware of the severity of what they’re discussing.

There’s a genuine tenderness between the boys, hidden beneath layers of ribbing and banter. It’s a beautiful connection to watch develop. All three performers are very strong. Sesay’s Joey, is the most anxious of the three. He offers up backup plans in case they’re not scouted, and is the most affected by the change in ‘endz’. Sesay deftly switches between the anxious young man, and joyous teen. Williams-Stirling as Bilal is focussed entirely on the football, but his range is strong, giving us moving moments of pause and dramatic moments of comedy. Lovehall’s Omz is the joker of the gang, but also has the hardest home life. Lovehall effortlessly portrays the struggle to keep things afloat and to keep the mask of nonchalance in place.

There are moments where this fast-paced play does lose momentum. It meanders along, enjoyably, but at times a little slowly. There are movement elements, which show the boys’ aspirations, but feel incongruous with the gritty realism of the rest of the piece.

Overall though, it’s a very special play. The characters it explores are rarely seen on stage, and it’s moving to watch.

RED PITCH at the Bush Theatre

Reviewed on 11th September 2023

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Helen Murray




Previously reviewed at this venue:


Paradise Now! | ★★★★★ | December 2022
The P Word | ★★★ | September 2022
Favour | ★★★★ | June 2022
Lava | ★★★★ | July 2021

Red Pitch

Red Pitch

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Review of Waves – 3 Stars



Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 21st November 2017


“Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement”


When entering the auditorium for Waves, you are greeted by the gentle sounds of a sitar and tabla (a type of classical Indian drum) being played by musicians sat either side of the dimly lit stage. Individual spotlights shine on the musicians, with a third reserved in the centre of the stage for a rope hanging eerily above. The sounds of the instruments reverberate beautifully around the small, circular stalls and a light haze creates a rippling effect as it passes through the lights.

This mystical scene is set for Rasa, performed by aerialist Gisele Edwards. Edwards ascends the rope so nimbly and steadily that at times it looks as if she is being drawn up by some spirit, rather than her own strength. The piece is layered with beautiful extensions and suspensions, but peaks when she starts to writhe erratically at the top of the rope. The drumming becomes increasingly unsettling until Edwards lets go from her inverted position for a death drop, falling to mere inches off the floor. The piece is captivating, with Edwards and her accompanists (Clem Alford, Sitar and Sirishkumar Manji, Tabla) singing and speaking intermittently throughout, to pay homage to India’s philosophy and religion.

The second piece in this evening of new dance, is S/He. Choreographed and performed by Kirill Burlov with Emma Farnell-Watson. It is billed as ‘exploring the ways in which gender roles are shifting and being dismantled’. The first of three distinct sections sees Burlov drag Farnell-Watson,  dressed in a corset and hooped skirt, limply onto the stage to what sounded like a 1930s cabaret tune. After spending some time posing her as he pleases, the music flips to a minimal, electronic bass as Farnell-Watson is awakened, only to have Burlov then change into the same clothes as her as if to portray that man and woman are now equal. The choreography felt uninspired and Burlov’s continued hogging of the spotlight jarred with the supposed message of the piece. Things got weirder when the mood switched again, with Farnell-Watson folded in half, face covered by her skirt and kicking her legs around whilst Burlov skipped around the stage. Both dancers are evidently technically talented, unfortunately S/He’s lack of a cohesive theme let them down.

Waves finished with the strongest piece of the night, Duende with Dickson Mbi. Having choreographed, devised the lighting concept and edited the music, Mbi’s connection with the piece is tangible. Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement; there was a moment when just the sinews in his shoulder rippled to the music. Mbi’s presence commands the stage but can at times be hauntingly tender. Duende is an embodiment of the spirit of dance and Mbi performs it with an intensity that flows right to the tips of his fingers. Duende received the nights only standing ovation which was rightly deserved.

Waves had it’s crests and falls, but the highs were definitely worth the ride.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward





is at Print Room at the Coronet until 23rd November as part of the Coronet International Festival




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