Youthful, multicultural urban drama Playback a success despite contrivance
Narrative remains immersive despite gang culture themes being overplayed
This youthful, multicultural urban drama by Davey Anderson and Ankur Productions – the culmination of the PANGAA urban arts project – proves an impressive advertisement for the sort of large-scale play a bold and ambitious company can stage in the cavernous spaces of The Briggait. The huge warehouse at the rear of the building has been converted into the mean streets of Pollokshields, the setting for a promenade performance billed as ‘part gig, part road movie, part theatre’. Outcast Harun (Asif Khan) seems locked on a crash course with oblivion after being taken under the wing of his drug-dealing uncle Shakil (Paul Chaal). That is, until Rhia (Sharita Scott), a similarly lonely soul who has inherited her grandmother’s extrasensory talents, makes a fateful intervention.
Zipping along to a live hip hop soundtrack voiced by beatboxer Bigg Taj and former X Factor finalist Nikitta Angus, Paddy Cunneen’s lively direction makes full use of the venue, with multi-level sets and video projections onto the walls. Themes of gang culture and knife crime are overplayed and the contrivance of Rhia’s spooky clairvoyance – a tool for focusing on how a split second of good or bad judgment can make or break a young life – prove insufficient in delivering Playback’s message. But the narrative remains immersive throughout, and a break-dancing section midway as well as a bumping solo turn from Bigg Taj underscore the fact that this is as much about giving a platform to young Glaswegian urban artists as anything else.
The Briggait, Glasgow, until Sat 23 Oct