Ex-offenders make up cast of play about exploitation
His Teeth Only Connect Theatre 3/5
Only Connect Theatre King’s Cross HHHII
In a city full of itinerant escapees from domestic, political, cultural and economic uncertainty, the opportunities for exploitation of the weak are myriad. Every day on inner London’s streets, we pass people so adept at making themselves invisible that they appear as shadows.
His Teeth takes us into one of the parallel worlds in which the dispossessed fight to survive: an uncomfortable journey into London’s dark heart, where gang masters use drugs and guns to enslave and exploit.
Eddie, transported from Nigeria, finds himself forced to care for trafficked boys on their way, presumably, to prostitution. When he falls in love with Sarah, high on crack cocaine and dressed as a child to titillate the thug who feeds her habit, he rediscovers hope. An opportunity arises for them to escape their miserable, secret existence. They grab it.
How likely is this to work out? Surprisingly, we’re unsure until right to the end – and that’s one of the successes of this short, pithy play by Ben Musgrave, passionately and well put together by a cast made up of ex-offenders and young people who’ve come in from the periphery of the criminal world.
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The action happens within a screened square in Only Connect Theatre’s beautiful performance space – a converted Baptist chapel in King’s Cross, complete with elegant gallery. The screen is expertly used for the projection of videos and backdrops and suggests a world within a world to which we have no access. But it also impedes engagement with the characters and that is a loss.
As a dramatic piece, His Teeth doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know from court reports and films, but it has a special resonance when performed by those who have been touched by the issues. At just 80 minutes in length, it’s worth sitting through.
Until November 12.