Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick Review: Oxford Street (Royal Court Theatre)

Just when you thought Ashley Walters, work-place-based bullying, and shopping for trainers wouldn’t mix, Levi David Addai’s Oxford Street comes along to completely resole your views…

The theatre has always been hit-and-miss for me in all honesty. Yes, it’s nice ingesting ‘the arts’, soaking up a bit of culture and bettering ones visual pallet but sometimes you’ll get stuck in a time-warp-like, poo of a play. You know, one of those mind melters that makes the whole experience drier than a Madonna album playback? Luckily, this thespian theatrical was right up our Street. It delivered in terms of entertainment, innovative setup and cast.

Based spitting distance from Sloane Square underground station - at The Royal Court Theatre - this modern day take on retail and working relationships looks into the lives and ambitions of the workers of fictitious store TOTAL SPORTS. It accurately depicts how the shop is everything to some but a stepping-stone to others. Most wanting to break free and be successful. 'I don't want to work here much longer; I got bigger plans than dis place... I gotta make it. Can't be living in my forties and still work in retail. Can't be living in the struggle no more.' Says Nathaniel Martello-White (security guard, Kofi Graham), who’s just one of the employees that wants to better themselves. However when Kofi’s old school 'pal', Ashley Walters (Darrell), comes to work in the shop things get a little hot under their (polo) collars.

Apart from the comical script, what makes Oxford Street worth checking out is the fact that the cast act around you. Gone are the days when you’d be in the back of a sweat-ridden theatre with half of your school, slouched in a sunken, sticky mess of a seat behind some over achiever in a mac with matching monocle. The likes of Ashley Walters and Cyril Nri’s – best known for his role as Borough Commander Adam Okaro in The Bill – acting is entwined with the audience – who sit perched on BACKLESS white stools for 1hr 30ish mins, NO BREAK. It was good to see Nri (who plays Kofi’s uncle-like boss, Emmanuel) in a light-hearted roll and he was a pleasant surprise. As were relatively fresh faced actors Shane Zaza (Husnad) and Preeya Kalidas (Loraina).

Oxford Street is definitely worth checking out if you fancy a break from mundane trips to the cinema, raving with your little sister or hanging out on estate corners. It’s a fresh breath of theatre air and was a straight two thumbs up. It’s especially worth going to see if you’ve ever worked in Footlocker, JD Sports or any other pretender to their sports retail thrones. Even Levi David Addai insists it’s “Dedicated to all those who toil or have toiled in retail, particularly those who work on that mile and a half High Street in London W1”

Go and see it now, before it’s too late…

Rating: 4/5

2-31 May 2008
Mon-Sat 7.45pm
Sat 4pm

Tickets £15
Mondays all seats £10
Concessions £10 (ID required, not bookable online)

For more info visit