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REVIEW: OXFORD STREET

 

By Belinda Otas

 

4 Stars

 

Thursday, May 22, 2008.

 

Levi David Addai just keeps these productions rolling in. His latest offering, Oxford Street, puts life on one of Britain’s busiest street as it is, onto the British stage.

 

Set in a discount sportswear shop, with characters that are easily recognisable if you have dared to brace one of Europe’s most famous shopping districts. Oxford Street tells the story of Kofi, a university graduate, who dreams of becoming a journalist but for now, he has to settle for the role of a security guard at Total Sports. While he plans the best way to work his way up on the journalism ladder.

 

Kofi gets on with his colleagues and is fond of the fast talking Loraina, who dreams of making it big time in the music industry, claiming, “I didn’t pick performing arts, performing arts chose me.” An all too familiar statement if you have ever had to hold down a part time job while pursuing your dream. His boss, Emmanuel (Cyril Nri) has a soft spot for him. Things are running smoothly until Darrell, an old mate turns up and Kofi has to make some tough decisions.

 

Soutra Gilmour’s ability to turn The Jerwood theatre Upstairs into one of the most vibrant sports shop in theatre has to be commended for the way it replicates life as you know it in any one of the sports shop on Oxford Street on the stage.

 

Dawn Walton’s direction of Oxford Street is lively and without a doubt, a witty and entertaining production that captures a slice of life for what it is. The cast is equally as vibrant. They are not afraid to tell you about their dissatisfaction but they are able to maintain their sense of humour.

 

Nathaniel Martello-White is strong as Kofi and Ashley Walters captures the trouble making Darrell superbly. Preeya Kalidas is brilliant as Loraina and Kristian Kiehling is the Polish security guard who takes his job more seriously than life itself but he will make you laugh.

 

This is a case of art immitating life; Addai is brilliant at observational comedy, and every character feels true, from the Daily Mail-reading security guard who takes himself seriously, to a couple of cocky young hoodies. 

 

As a playwright, Addai is excellent at capturing life from the British African viewpoint and also at bringing to live, stories about ordinary Londoners. With his latest instalment, Addai is surely on the path to greatness. 

 

Director Dawn Walton

Designer Soutra Gilmour

Lighting Philip Gladwell

Sound Carolyn Downing

Movement Ann Yee

Cast: Reece Beaumont, Preeya Kalidas, Daniel Kaluuya, Kristian Kiehling, Amelia Lowdell, Nathaniel Martello-White, Cyril Nri, Ashley Walters, Shane Zaza

 

Oxford Street is now showing at the Royal Court Theatre until May 31, 2008.

 

Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's features and theatre editor.  She can be reached at belindaotas@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

Please email comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com 

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