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Gone Too Far!

Bola Agbaje
Royal Court Downstairs
(2008)

Production image

After a successful run in the Theatre Upstairs last February Bola Agbaje play Gone Too Far has returned for a second run and it couldn't be more topical with its exploration of violence amongst youngsters.

However, whilst a prevalent theme it is not the main focus of Agbaje's urban drama which is more concerned with observing identity in our multi-cultural society.

Two Brothers, Yemi (Tobu Bakare) and Ikudayisi (Tunki Lucas), one raised in London, the other in Nigeria, are reunited forcing them to confront questions about their identity. Are they defined by what's in their blood or by where they were raised? As they walk the streets it soon becomes clear that they are not the only ones struggling to identify with who they are.

It seems we can't open a newspaper these days without reading about another violent crime amongst teenagers with particular emphasis on "black on black" warfare. However, what does that mean? "Black on black"? Agbaje observes the divides within this culture which seems to have conveniently been defined by white people as one group. Some West Indians have problems with Nigerians and vice versa but then some Nigerians have problems with themselves; feeling forced to identify with a country that they have never been to. Or there are those that are fiercely proud to be Jamaican and claim knowledge of this country when they rarely leave their estate, let alone get on a plane.

Prejudices and ignorance are highlighted in Gone Too Far as many characters make assumptions about others based on stereotypes and at times this message is laid on a bit thick as scene after scene portrays characters jumping to conclusions, particularly when two white police officers question the brothers. However Bijan Sheibani's hip production is pumping with the energy of youth in its realistic depiction of teens and their interaction with each other today. The rhythm of the dialogue is akin to a drum and bass beat with the body language of those on stage moving in time. Set on a bare stage with nothing to distract from the immediate action this young cast is pumping with vibrancy, particularly Zawe Ashton as Armani who buzzes with attitude with her "in yer face" manner, talking a good talk with little to back it up.

Ultimately this is a play about being proud of yourself, whoever that may be, and whilst the moral isn't particularly subtle, the way things are going at the moment, perhaps it does need to be hammered home. Respect breeds respect - innit!

Running until 9th August. Following its run at the Royal Court, "Gone Too Far!" will be presented at The Albany in Deptford 14 - 16 August and at Hackney Empire 19-23 August.

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan