Shoot 2 Win

Tracey Daley, Jo Martin and Josephine Melville
In Company and Southside Arts
Brockley Jack Theatre
(2008)

It makes a refreshing change to see a play where there is not only an all-woman, mainly black cast, but an all-woman writing team too, even if the end result is a play where the balance swings exclusively to the feminine without any great insight.

Writers Daley, Martin and Melville provide us with an account that is both moving and incredibly funny in parts so you can forgive its predictable structure even if you can't quite manage to exonerate the implausible ending. Both these characteristics can perhaps be ascribed to the fact that this is their first writing endeavour.

What draws the disparate women in this play together is membership of a netball team; locker-room banter becomes straight-talking that exacerbates pre-match anxiety and sparks the admission of inner secrets. Here a further weakness becomes apparent as too many themes to handle rise to the surface - drugs, alcoholism, domestic violence, race, sex and fidelity - and more besides.

Amongst the sassy and sparky dialogue a few unlikely phrases sit uneasily and there are also two musical interludes which, although aptly staged and entertaining, interrupt the action for little material benefit.

On the up-side there are some very successful comedic moments and the writer of those should get the lion's share of the credit for making this piece as enjoyable as it is.

The netball team is not doing well, even past glories are in short supply, as it emerges that each player must rise above her own personal problems before the team can triumph. They reveal themselves to be a pretty unappealing bunch and, since the cast are recent drama school grads, when it comes to putting across their characters with conviction perhaps unsurprisingly the results are variable.

Estella Daniels' drug supplying Shenequa is stunning to look at and Daniels delivers disdainful quips exuding attitude but there is nothing here to like or care about. Eki Maria is done no favours as team coach, Beverly, the butt of some easy 'mock the Christian' jokes, and is robbed of her moment of pathos by one such cheap crack.

Similarly, the audience is suppressing a smirk instead of a tear when Chantelle Dusette's Jackie tragically discovers her husband's affair by hearing him having sex over the mobile phone. You could be forgiven for thinking that the writers are avoiding actually addressing any of the issues.

Selina Brathwaite and Stephanie Toghill are somewhat more engaging as kooky Carrie and white girl Zowie who thinks she should have been born black. Nichola June is an able ex-crack addict Mandy, whilst Lisa Davina Philip uses her beautiful big eyes to good effect as Sandra, the dark horse whose guilty secret catalyses the girls coming together as a team.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti