The Royal Court Theatre presents
93.2 FM ( Archived )
By Levi David Addai
6 September - 16 September 2006
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
Coach and Bossman are a dynamic duo tearing up the airwaves at Borough FM. Together they have become radio heroes, but someone’s getting above their station, putting Borough FM in the shade. There’s a storm brewing and the live phone-ins might not be able to provide all the answers. United they may stand but divided…
93.2FM is a sharp comedy about friendship, depicting the age-old dilemma of ‘community’ versus ‘mainstream’ and how to remain loyal to your roots while following your dreams. It’s about achieving your goals and what may, or may not be compromised along the way.
“*_This is a must-see new play, not only for young people but for everyone. Levi has his finger on the pulse – a writer to watch out for” _*Angie le Mar, Choice FM
Direction: Dawn Walton
Cast: Will Beer, Lorna Brown, Richie Campbell, Seroca Davis, Emmanuel Idowu, Ashley Madekwe and Ofo Uhiara
93.2FM continues at the +Sherman Theatre, Cardiff + the 21 – 22 September, 26 – 30 September, 3 – 7 October and the 10 – 11 October.
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Michael Coveney,Whatsonstage, 11 September 2006
The Young Writers Programme at the Royal Court is a source of much energy and bubbling activity in Sloane Square, and far too little of it has seeped into the core repertoire. A notable exception, though, is this engaging, enjoyable and highly promising new play set in a South London local radio station by first-time writer Levi David Addai, the best black writer the Court’s uncovered since Roy Williams.
As it happens, I saw 93.2FM as part of last years YWP Critical Mass initiative, and I thought then that the piece deserved a full showing. Even better, after the Theatre Upstairs run, the play will tour to young audiences in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool and Brighton.
I have no doubt they will “shout back” at a play about music, live radio, aspiration, sexual rivalry, and staying true to yourself and your mates as vociferously as did a small element of the Court’s Press night audience. It was an exhilarating experience.
The station, Borough FM, specifically located in London SE13, is a neighbourhood venture started, and run by, Coach and Bossman. Coach has an idea of moving on and moving up with City FM, a bigger station whose absurd white representative – adopting black idioms and expensive designer trainers – calls by to track down his dude. Coachs sister is phoning in complaints about the men in her life. Bossman smells a rat and Coach is accused of disloyalty, of betraying his roots, while his shrieking girlfriend, Delisha, is playing away with Anton, aka Talent Scout, the hopeless but next-in-line DJ on the airwaves.
Not only does Addai manage his story line and dialogue stretches with some skill, taking the action across a live programme with off-mike showdowns and squabbles through a Christmas interlude and New Years party; he also hits on a real way to convey street argot and peer group behaviour without sounding false or stilted.
An air of easy, natural poetry sits on the dialogue and you can enjoy the richness of a slangy patois peculiar to its exponents while relishing the wonderful incongruity of, say, the reaction to the accusation that the personal and the professional cannot be mixed in broadcasting: “It works for Richard and Judy!”
Dawn Walton’s pitch perfect production features three of the YWP performers from last year and has worried at the rough edges to provide a really impressive debut play, with a fantastic rap/garage soundtrack. Ofo Uhiara as Coach is an imposing Sonny Liston-type bruiser with a soft centre when he realises that his heart might lead him to Lorna Brown’s steely but softly-spoken Patricia.
Much of the plays energy and propulsion comes from Richie Campbell’s Bossman, while Emmanuel Idowu’s Anton provides the most pregnant pauses and hardest stares in town. Ashley Madekwe is hilarious as Delisha, too much and too beautiful, while Seroca Daviss ferocious little sister and Will Beer’s white “happening muso” (a poor man’s Eminem) complete an outstanding cast.
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Jane Edwardes, Time Out, 9 September 2006
Garage music, sharp banter and personal advice make up the content of Borough FM a community radio station in south London run by Coach and Bossman, a lively pair of black DJs whose physical antics are wasted on the radio. In his energetic first play, Levi David Addai charts the events of one autumn in which the station nearly comes to its knees as Coach is faced with an age old dilemma. He has to decide whether to stay true to his roots or whether to accept an offer to join the much larger and more prestigious City FM. Is this betrayal or is it a natural desire to better oneself?
Unlike the jealous Bossman, the good-natured, more mature Coach is easily able to laugh at himself. Bossman’s attitude to women is one of notches-on- the-bed-post and he can t understand why their co-worker Patricia isnt amused by his advances. Coach, on the other hand, claims to have put his swinging days behind him and takes a strong moral line with his younger brother and sister, while overlooking the failings of his girlfriend, the self-centred, screeching Keisha.
Although there is no interval, the play falls very much into two halves, the first seamlessly driven along by the high spirits of studio life and the sudden drama of Coach’s announcement; the second more contrived and less truthful as the emotional tensions increase. Director Dawn Walton directs with a swing however helped by sterling performances from Ofo Uhiara as the troubled Coach and Richie Campbell as Bossman. Emmanuel Idowu is excellent too as Anton, Coach’s wayward, drug-dealing brother, who can switch between hard man and kid in the blink of an eye .
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LOYALTIES are stretched to the limit in Levi David Addais first play, developed under the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.
Set at a community radio station in South London,93.2FM looks at what happens when your identity is bound up with the people and places that surround you. Dawn Walton’s production is stylish and sparky. Malachi and Jerome are the founders of 93.2 Borough FM; Anton is Malachis rebellious, weed-smoking brother. Malachi and Patricia, a presenter and single mother, are like surrogate parents to the temperamental Jerome and to Anton, who conceal a child-like refusal to assume responsibility for their lives behind slightly ridiculous sexual braggadocio.
Throw in Malachi’s precocious 15-year-old sister Keisha and his high-maintenance girlfriend Delisha, and they make one happy-ish family. But they are more dysfunctional than they appear.
Malachi’s shot at a job with a national station exposes jealousies and insecurities, as he is accused by Jerome and Anton, who regard themselves as married to the streets, of betraying his background.
The dangers of falling in love with a mythologised ghetto are underlined, in Soutra Gilmour’s design, by a poster of the murdered rapper Tupac Shakur on the studio door.
Anton and Jerome may not be in danger of getting shot, but their reliance on an image of themselves as “players” and their equating of manhood with aggression rather than achievement makes it difficult for them to grow up and develop, either emotionally or professionally. Their refusal to try to succeed in the wider world is partly motivated by fear: jealous as they are of Malachis chance to move on, dread of failure prevents them seeking similar opportunities.
There is also enormous generosity in Addai’s writing. He shows us the caring, supportive side of community, and Ofo Uhiaras gentle Malachi is genuinely touching. Addai also points up the pervasive appeal of black urban culture in the laughable attempts of a white DJ (Will Beer) to tap into black credibility.
From Emmanuel Idowu’s posturing Anton, hand permanently stuck down his waistband, to Richie Campbells bright but bitter Jerome, Ashley Madekwes shrill Delisha, Lorna Brown’s wise, sassy Patricia and Seroca Davis’s irrepressibly feisty Keisha, Walton’s production is acted with wit and warmth. The play’s ideas arent as big as its heart, but this is a memorable and decidedly promising debut.
JERWOOD THEATRE UPSTAIRS
6 – 16 September
Tickets 10 – 15
6 September, 7.45pm
8 September, 7pm
12 September, 7.45pm 13 September, 2.30pm
9, 16 September 4pm
1 hour 20 minutes