Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Frontline - Breeze Bloc Production, 24/7 Festival Manchester

Writer & Director: Victoria Ofovbe
Reviewer: Lisa Whiteside

Frontline is a drama based upon the lives of two young people living within a Manchester area where gun and gang culture are rife. As the story unfolds we learn more about Ramone and Aisha, the central characters, who are both heavily involved within this lifestyle. As one endeavours to move on the other realises that this will be impossible as the consequences of such involvement will be massive.

Considering the nature of recent breaking news within Manchester of late it would be very difficult to dispute the relevance of Victoria Ofovbe’s script. This piece of drama is undeniably key to today’s issues with crime and gang culture and being a Mancunian myself, definitely relative to Manchester and local areas.

When given a maximum running time of no more than 60 minutes for the 24/7 festival any writer would be hard pushed to fully explore and develop a character’s story and that is what I would personally have liked. This script has great potential, however I left feeling like I wanted to know more about each of the characters, their growing relationship together and the realisation of the consequences that will follow each of their actions.

Ramone is a character that has the potential for enormous scope in terms of illustrating both a sinister and soft side to the character and that is what I would have liked to have been explored further. The piece was suitably cast with both performers, however on occasions felt rather ‘shouty’ thus making the piece on occasions lose its intensity as the subtleties of the work were lost. This was a piece whereby I felt as though I wanted to empathise with the characters but was unable to for some reason and that is what I felt was needed to make the audience fully engage with the piece as a whole.

Overall ‘Frontline’ proved to be a relevant, gritty and topical piece that kept the audience entertained. I personally would argue however that this piece definitely has much more scope with further development of the script, exploration and refinement of characters and detailed direction to truly realise its overall potential and relevance both within today’s society and theatrical climate.
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