Review: Punchdrunk's A Drowned Man or nice sets shame about the lack of performance
Review: Jonathan Slinger's Hamlet for the RSC and who I think should have played the lead

Review: Pigeons, third play in the Royal Court's weekly rep

280x157.fitandcrop-1The Royal Court's weekly rep season is half way through now and seems to be building week to week with Pigeons the best so far. Just an hour long it packs in a lot and could easily be fleshed out.

It's not a new story in many senses. Two firm, childhood friends from different backgrounds, Amir (Nav Sidhu) and Ashley (Ryan Sampson) find themselves fighting for different beliefs and against each other but writer Suhayla El-Bushra places that story in modern British context.

Ashley is in and out of care and bunks off school but spends a lot of time with Amir's family where the home is a stabilising influence and it is Amir that is the stroppy, rebellious teen. They discover girls together, drink together, experiment with drugs together, fall out and make up but a combination of events drives a wedge between the two setting them on destructive paths.

Suhayla El-Bushra starts the play with a violent confrontation cutting back and forth in time between the two boys early friendship and the events leading up to that opening scene. The shift away from friendship is gradual, the pieces all coming together to reveal the whole story.

There is more that could be explored in a longer play. The relationship between Amir and his dad for example and I would love to know more about Leah (Angela Terence) who provides an early love interest/sexual encounter for the two.  She's worth a play on her own: What has led her down the path of using sex as means of gaining acceptance?

Pigeons is performed with an appropriately youthful energy by the two leads to a pounding soundtrack. The drinking, drugs and sex while nothing particularly new for teenagers provides the fun, bonding backdrop against which the dark issue are placed.  Suhayla El-Bushra's script is at times witty and laugh out loud funny and so it should be as these are teens having fun in the only way they know how.

It is the mixture of social deprivation, lack of opportunity against an under current of racial prejudice and growing intolerance that gives its darker moments.

Enjoyed Pigeons and looking forward to seeing more of Suhayla El-Bushra's work. It runs in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until Saturday.