Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Six Rounds

John ADEkoje
Liminal Space
Lost Theatre
(2011)

Six Rounds publicity image

You have to be either pretty daring or pretty tone deaf to call your play a ‘tragicomic hip-hop concerto’. Six Rounds is a bit of both.

It starts with a soliloquy by Ace, a boxer who tells of his past lives, linking his own history as an African to his present, and apparently last, sixth life. What could be expected next is a look at his life, his expectations and his place in the everyday world. What does follow is the whitest guy you’ll ever know bouncing and yo’ing across the stage, the sound of a boxing ring bell and someone in a wheelchair talking.

Six Rounds starts as it means to go on: with a lot of confusion. There’s an attempt to mix social realism with abstract techniques and while there’s something very brave about that, and a potential for a fresh approach, unfortunately this quickly gets lost behind narrative confusion, a clichéd-box-ticking-approach to ‘ghetto life’ and alienating techniques.

Despite this, there is some solid acting; in fact, individually, none of the actors really disappointed, and some good lines. The actual rapping was mostly dull beats, but it did break up the action. The issue, however, is that the characters on stage were increasingly isolated from the audience as scene followed incomprehensible scene.

In a way Six Rounds was too ambitious, too eager to mix things up when little has been laid down. Structurally, it seems stuck between being a play about one man’s life and general ‘ghetto’ life so there was little to hold onto. It’s not that the two approaches are incompatible, but you need a centre or your audience will be wondering why after seeing the ‘main’ character die there’s a scene discussing motherhood.

Six Rounds is a twisted play, chaotic and unsure of itself. By mixing social realism with an abstract and alienating setting, it lacks grounding as well as direction. The overwhelming impression is one of confusion, despite some solid performances and some good pieces of dialogue. While there is something interesting about its mixed approach, there is little for the audience to relate to here.

"Six Rounds" is playing at the Lost Theatre until July 3rd.

Reviewer: Tobias Chapple