One day I was at the National Theatre watching Lorraine Hansberry’s epic masterpiece ‘Les Blancs’. A disturbing and haunting story about the end of the colonial era in an imaginary African country. It was a compelling cast, on a big stage, which brought sight and sound and smells alive with an element of Hamlet. The next day I was over in East London, at the Pond in Dalston, watching ‘Knife Edge’, where 80% of the cast including the leading actor, Tezlym Senior Sakutu, were acting for the first time. I was no less absorbed in this drama because they are not seasoned actors. ‘Knife Edge’ has an air of Shakespearian tragedy and comedy along with haunting scenes and there was never a dull moment. Not even after the play when cast and audience come together for a little jig and to feast.
Knife Edge is about the Girl With No Name [GWNN] who has anger issues and her lone struggle against the odds for success. She was raised in the care system since she was eight years old when her mother died. We look into her life, at her available options, the decisions she makes and how she ends up in prison. This is not another poverty porn play. Far from it, David Watson’s cleverly written play presents a spectrum of perspectives from marginalised less privileged youth. Their anger, dreams, frustrations, hierarchy and hope. Most of all it provides the audience with an understanding and an opportunity to adjust attitudes towards our disenfranchised youth.
It opens with the GWNN, her boyfriend Aaron and Dog, in Nando’s. Now you know we are talking modern Britain. We are guided through the play by storytellers: who also act like the fairy godparents if not the conscience of the GWNN. I do mean guided! The audience walks through the venue to witness various scenes. I liked this aspect, it added to the feeling of being a real life spectator in the life of GWNN. It was that feeling that stops me from dwelling on the use of the four letter words, the C word in particular.
As the audience moves to scenes, there is musical accompaniment. The music along with the lighting gives the murder of the GWNN’s father a deeper potency. The music is also responsible for lifting us at various points during the play. The props which included two litre soda bottles strapped together, give a real sense of ‘chicken and chips’ London.
This play is asking a lot of its cast, comedy and tragedy, dreams and despair, anger and love!
Boy, do they deliver. Tezlym Senior Sakutu plays the GWNN superbly. She brings depth to a character who it would be all to easy to dislike. Rather, you find yourself in her corner, despite the horrible revenge she extracts upon Aaron: whose life ambition is to have a threesome. One feels her anger, fears and vulnerability. Tezlym is a star in the ascendancy. A wonderfully convincing cast support Tezlym.
After the show, the audience can mingle and eat with the cast. It is a warm and refreshing way to end the evening. I made two new friends from the audience. The food is good and try the fish; it’s delicious. Talk with the cast. They are bright and funny.
Knife Edge is moving and beautifully acted, particularly Tezlym Senior Sakutu. It has packaged hope into an entertaining real life bundle. I left the play a different person.
Connect with me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/imjussayin2
Knife Edge is at Pond, Dalston, until June 12.
Book now to avoid disappointment. Details here