Review: Red Pitch (Bush Theatre, online)

Three young black lads, aged 16, play kickabout on a dilapidated football pitch, the Red Pitch of the title, in Tyrell Williams’s energetic play now available to stream from the Bush Theatre.

They are friends who have grown up in an area now being blighted by construction and gentrification, a process forcing many like them out of the places they call home.

The action is all on the pitch, the production staged in the round, including some seats set to feel like those on a terrace (but not occupied for this digital recording).

Production shot from Red Pitch

As friends do, the three chat, chafe, and even dance at one point. There is tension as well as friendship, even one moment of brawling. It’s a triumph of movement direction and set design (Dickson Mbi and Amelia Jane Hankin respectively).

It feels real, from speech patterns and chemistry. This a place which may be rough at the edges but is safe to play and exist in. A place to pinch a friend’s chicken wings and practice your passes and kicks.

Places like this are under threat all over the capital as high-end developments move in and geographical traditions are eradicated. Although the location is not specified, it is urban London, probably south of the river.

Production shot from Red Pitch

Directed by Bush Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director Daniel Bailey, this new play has all the power and pace of the beautiful game.

As Omz (Francis Lovehall), Bilal (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and Joey (Emeka Sesay) dream of stardom and escape, the world around them is changing.

All three performers bring a strong acting and sporting talent to their roles: Joey the grounded one; Bilal the ambitious one; Omz the one who wants to stay in this place no matter what.

You can stream Red Pitch until 14 May with tickets available here giving 48 hours access from the date/time selected.

Image credit: Craig Fuller