Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Kingfisher Blue

Lin Coghlan
Bush Theatre
(2005)

Josef Altin as Ally in Kingfisher Blue

In the week that Kingfisher Blue opened, the media was alive with stories of Hoodies. This is highly appropriate as the play explores the teenage depths of humanity in Peckham. Inevitably, its young protagonists sport hooded sweatshirts and put-on attitude.

The hapless Elvis has been taken up by Doug Allen's Denny, that anti-cliché, a poor plumber with a heart of gold. Elvis' mate, fourteen year old Ally, the trapped Kingfisher of the title, is not so lucky. His dad beats him while his Mum lives far away in Majorca.

The boys' lives and outlooks can pretty much be summed up by their solution to any seemingly insoluble problem: "Let's get hammered".

Monetary aspirations in this society are symbolised by the greasy Cooper (Paul Moriarty) whose plans to get rich quick smack of over-optimism or possibly desperation.

In Ally's eyes, his only hope for salvation is to get some cash and join Mum in the closest to heaven that he can imagine. The chirpy lad hears that cash can be made by selling dirty photos of himself at the local.

Elvis is roped into the plan with dire, if amusing, consequences. He is inevitably taken for a pervert and in this community is lucky to escape with his life.

Lin Coghlan's portrayal of a depressed and depressing underclass has its moments, both humorous and highly-charged, and brings some serious issues to a wider public. There are rather too many loose ends but in the end, this play is moving because of fine performances from the two youngsters, Toby Alexander as Elvis and especially Josef Altin as poor Ally.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher