A stimulating, if unattractive, new spin on London gangbanger drama act, a foursquare and funny show about the real struggles of fatherhood, and a poignant musical story of remission and resiliency are among the rearmost theatre highlights our pundits have discovered on the Fringe. Words by David Pollock, Fergus Morgan and ArianeBranigan.Don ’ t let the immediate saturations of gruff, wideboy Guy Ritchie gangbanger act put you off – there’s far more unanticipated connection and indeed tenderheartedness to this new piece by Plymouth- grounded artist, actor, minstrel and playwright Jason Brownlee. He takes the supereminent part among a cast of five, in a play which is nonetheless steeped in absolute mortal brutality andmisery.Brownlee’s character is a gangbanger and hitman from London, a violent and merciless man who carries on the Ritchie comparison in his resemblance to Vinnie Jones. He shoots people in elevators, is the terror of obliged medicine dealer Bunny( Brandon Howard) and mocks his stylish friend Joe( Sham Ali), whose taste for Eastern European coitus workers has given him an unwelcome STD. Yet this gangster loves his heroin- addicted mum( Sue Raphael) and his coitus- enthused gal Bernie( Amber L Jacobs), exposing moments of fragility as he recalls his nonage abuse and neglect.
The actors line up on the other side of a row of tables, switching the office lights in front of them on and off as their turn to speak arrives. The effect feels transmittable to a radio play, although their characters are etched on each face in the half- light, and there are moments where their performances go beyond the verbal; Joe’s standing hassle with a woman in a restroom, for illustration, or the ensemble’s stupefied, slow- stir reach of their heads as they take medicines in a café in accord.