Fallout (4 stars)

Fallout

Channel 4, Thu 3 Jul, 9pm

DRAMA

The issue of young people and crime is such a hot topic that it was only a matter of time before documentary-makers got in gear and happy slapped Channel 4 commissioners into submission with a series to mark the sorry state of the nation. And so it arrives with the Disarming Season, which features docs with titles such as Teenaged, Armed and Dangerous and The Truth About Street Weapons. As far as we know, there are no plans to have Donal Macintyre running around the pavemented death zones of the UK trying to nab some jaunty quotes from a tooled-up ruffian. While factual programmes are adept at wielding sensationalist realism to capture the zeitgeist, dramas pinpointing individuals to encapsulate the heart of the matter can often have more impact.

And so it is with Fallout, written by Roy Williams and first performed at the Royal Court in 2003, a tale of schoolkids caught up in a cycle of violence and vengeance with anyone who seeks to escape their brutal environment. As he did onstage, Lennie James plays Joe, a cop who returns to the estate he grew up in and escaped from at the earliest opportunity. It’s a tale of rage, roots and, ultimately, redemption as the true reason for the futile slaying of the thriving Kwame is revealed. Written in the wake of the Damilola Taylor case, it’s sadly a work that seems more relevant by the week.

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