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The Frontline at Shakespeare’s Globe

Marion Marples

Banksy's girl with a red balloon graffiti, once to be found in Clink Street, frames this every night story of what passes for life in inner-city and multicultural London.

Che Walker's new play, written in the Globe garret during waits for his cue in last year's production of Othello, animates the many lives to be found within a small segment of urban reality as found outside a tube station in a less salubrious part of town.

From Jesus saves squad ex heroin addict Beth (Golda Rosheuvel) via the Scottish philosophising hot dog seller /illegal trader (John Stahl) to Violet the glamorous brothel keeper (excellent Jo Martin) and Marcus the book-loving bouncer (Mo Sesay) we are back among the 'rude mechanicals'. Seeing a new play at the Globe reminds us of how it must have been for Shakespeare's audience, hearing clever lines for the first time. The dialogue is snappy and sharp, with every kind of rap and hip-hop. Language is echoed by movement and the younger black actors have a sure way with their loping and strutting walks.

Many worlds collide at the Fantasy Club but the undercurrent is the drug scene. There is great humour, for example stroppy Babydoll (Naana Agyei-Ampadu), Violet's 16-year-old daughter and some relationships come right in the end, but not before idealistic Miruits has been shot for crossing sharp suited Mr Big (Robert Gwilym). The history of the Somalis, Ethiopians and Afghans in particular is highlighted.

Below the bravado though lies great personal loneliness and tragedy, occasionally assuaged by some kind of fleeting relationship. In spite of the almost unrelenting desolation (not helped by the continuous rain on press night) the cast of 22 works well together and the final jolly jig ends with Babydoll releasing a red balloon into the night sky.

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