The Frontline, Globe Theatre
Set outside a tube station and involving at least 23 different characters, Che Walker’s The Frontline is unlike any play I have seen before. It follows each character as they go about their daily life which, inevitably, all end up crossing at some point or other.
One of these characters is Miruts, (Tessema) a self confessed educated thug who survives selling weed and hash originally from Ethiopia. Next is Violet (Martin) a black stripper and chief promoter at Fantasy Bar who has a volatile temper and mouth like a fog horn. Then there’s Ragdale (Godfrey) a smart, white, respectable old man who believes every woman he see (regardless of race!) is his long lost daughter.
Staged at Shakespeare’s Globe the production perfectly captures his spirit and how theatre would have been back in the sixteenth century. The play requires audience interaction and on the night I saw it they were more than willing to oblige, with boos, cheers or laughter filling the auditorium at every opportunity. But to do this is no easy feat as the huge theatre has its audience in every conceivable location; standing at the front of the stage and sitting around it on three different levels – not to mention it’s also outside.
Tons of kudos should be given to Che Walker who has not only written a brilliant play to fit the space but also done so using a contemporary setting and characters which will undoubtedly appeal to a fresh and new audience.
Further to this Matthew Dunster has successfully brought the energetic and animated the script to life. The only criticism is that at times you are required to split your attention between two areas of the stage.
With a cast of 23 it’s difficult to pick your favourite, but Jo Martin as Violet and Patrick Godfrey as Ragdale were memorable.
The Frontline is a colourful and energetic look at twenty-first century London and while the language and some of the content won’t be to everyone’s taste, it is, without doubt, one of the funniest and most enjoyable productions happening in London at the moment.
Cast Includes: Jo Martin, Patrick Godfrey, Beru Tessema and Zawe Ashton
Info: The Frontline is written by Che Walker, directed by Matthew Dunster and runs at the Globe Theatre until 23 May, 2009