🎭 Red Pitch
🎟️ PR invite

Tyrell Williams’ powerful play returns to Bush Theatre, and explores friendship, change and the impact of gentrification.

The story

We meet Bilal, Omz and Joey (Kedar Williams Stirling, Francis Lovehall and Emeka Sesay) – 3 Black teenagers and aspiring footballers who hang out on Reedbury estate in South London. The trio frequently play football on ‘Red Pitch’, practicing their skills for when they make it professionally. They banter, bicker, talk about girls and recollect their memories on the estate. Throughout the play, the boys prepare for the demolition of the estate and their impending relocation from ‘ends’. 

As the play unfolds, we discover Bilal, Omz and Joey’s aspirations, their family life, and the pressure and expectations held upon them. The regeneration of their estate has a profound impact and the show cleverly explores the disadvantages and potential benefits of this. This powerful story is about friendship, community, our dreams and change.

Photo by Helen Murray

My thoughts

As soon as we enter the space, we are immersed into Bilal, Omz and Joey’s world. The actors arrive on stage, performing kick-ups, and chatting with the crowd – some audience members even joined them on stage!

Having watched the show at the Bush Theatre, it was amazing to see the elevation of the production in terms of the creative design. We feel like we are directly on the estate, with distant sounds of destruction, rattling from the scaffolding, and protests from the residents – all while the boys talk and play football. Khalil Madovi’s sound design is such a subtle yet significant way to showcase the impending changes.  Amelia Jane Hankin’s football-inspired set design transports us to Red Pitch, with the fenced area and goal markings on the floor. This is supported by incredible lighting from Ali Hunter. During the dream-like sequences, the theatre is lit up like a stadium, where the characters envision scoring goals as professional footballers. It’s a literal snapshot of their aspirations, with the flashing lights, cameras, and encores from the crowd – it felt electric!

Photo by Helen Murray

While we may assume football is the focus, ‘Red Pitch’ covers various topics such as friendship, ambitions, and gentrification. Williams has created an authentic piece of theatre, highlighting a relevant topic in our society, that is rarely seen on stage. Inspired by Williams’ own experiences growing up, the story takes a personal approach as we look at the regeneration through the lens of the characters. Bilal, Omz and Joey have been friends for years and the chemistry between the cast makes this even more believable. All three are fantastic in their roles; they bounce off one another, especially during the comical moments (which were plenty!) and a brilliant dance sequence – it’s a joy to watch! Their portrayal as teenagers was spot on too, and I enjoyed the raw emotion they brought to the characters.

With movement choreographed by Gabrielle Nimo, the cast maintains high energy and an impressive display of stamina and football skills. Under Daniel Bailey’s direction, I enjoyed how the show struck the perfect balance between comedy and sincere moments. It was also interesting to hear the character’s varying views about the regeneration of Reedbury Estate. Omz is hopeful the change will be good for his elderly grandad’s access needs, while Joey appears frustrated that the local Morley’s has been replaced with a coffee shop. The show serves a reminder of the social and economic impact of London’s changing landscape.

Photo by Helen Murray

The storytelling is unique, engaging and a great representation of what it means to have a sanctuary and a shared space. The tapping in and out of the pitch was a genius move, highlighting the bond and what Red Pitch means to Omz, Bilal and Joey. 

The one-act play takes us on an emotional journey as we discover the boy’s family life and the pressures they face. The chemistry between the cast was so palpable that it felt tough watching the characters argue and fight. Kev McCurdy directs one of the most intense and realistic fight scenes I’ve ever seen, as the boys scrap on the pitch. In the quieter, emotional moments, particularly in the final scenes, we see just how much the boys mean to one another. It’s a beautiful, and authentic display of friendship.

You can tell a lot of heart has gone into making this production and I appreciate having stories like this in theatre! With a talented cast and creative team, Red Pitch is funny, thought-provoking, empathetic and refreshing story for the West End. I highly recommend going to see this show!

Red Pitch plays at @sohoplace until 4 May 2024!