Mad About The Boy

Tue 19th – Wed 20th June 2012

reviews

Dewei Jia

at 09:13 on 20th Jun 2012

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Only 50 minutes long, this lyrical three-hander represented a short episode in the life of a rebellious boy. We are presented with three characters – the boy, the dad, and the school counselor. Dad is a symbolic immigrant father; the fourteen year old boy is the rebellious son of Dad; the school counselor, at his late twenties or early thirties, is ethnically opposite to the desperate father and son.

Each character represents its own generation. The Dad’s “follows the rule”, the man’s “bends the rule”, whereas the boy’s “breaks the rule”. The cocky teenager (Bayo Gbadamosi) is a 'bad' boy, who observes rule in his little “bad boy” community. His father (Cyril Nri), loves him, but cannot understand his son’s disconnection from school life. The school counselor (Jamie Michie) is a well-adjusted middle class man, witty, but not sympathetic.

We can probably identify this situation as something not far from us – every school seems to have such a group of students. The theme of the play captured the darker side of school education. But it leaves the solution to its audience.

The play has a simply staging with only a couple of chairs as props. Therefore, the focus is really only the dialogues between actors. Gbolahan Obisesan writes the gritty dialogues in an unexpectedly lyrical and complicated way. There is no communication between characters. Their words roll, bounce, echo and overlap.

For all the talk that the boy “was turning bad” the main barrier between the men was one of diction; they don’t have common ground for words like “respect”, “like”, and even “bad”; their talk was full of misunderstanding. The man embodies a well-meaning, liberal, but stereotyped teacher who actually exacerbated the tension by his ignorance of the boy’s thought.

As the play is short and follows a well versed rhythm, it does not have the full space to go deep into the familiar subject matter. Instead, it reminds us of such a grim fact in a dramatically ear-pleasing language.

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