Reviews Roundup: Red Pitch (@sohoplace) 4★


Francis Lovehall, Kedar Williams-Stirling and Emeka Sesay in Red Pitch. Photo: Helen Murray

Having sold out at the Bush Theatre (twice), Tyrell Williams‘ debut full-length play moved to @sohoplace, the confusingly named new in-the-round theatre situated in London’s West End, where it continued to receive rave reviews. The play looks at three young black men’s lives and attitudes through the prism of their love of football. It’s directed by Daniel Bailey and stars Kedar Williams-Stirling, Emeka Sesay and Francis Lovehall.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

Dominic Cavendish in the Telegraph (4★) said that it details ‘the lives of black British male youth with a streetwise confidence and winning grasp of comic value.’ He liked its new venue: ‘Daniel Bailey’s pulsing production fits snugly in the venue’s in-the-round configuration’ and concluded by saying it’s ‘a feel-good, emotionally impactful and richly contemporary triumph.’

For Tim Bano at Time Out (4★), ‘it’s a brilliant bit of writing about gentrification, friendship, masculinity and aspiration, without ever being heavy-handed …   there’s some kind of alchemy between writer, director and actors.’ He observed: ‘The play’s at its best when we’re simply in the company of the boys, sharing their anxiety for the future and living their joy in the present.’ Fiona Mountford in the i (4) declared: ‘Daniel Bailey’s production fizzes and bounces with kinetic energy.’

Sam Marlowe in The Stage (4) talked about ‘Tyrell Williams’ touching, hilarious and joyous drama about male friendship’ and how ‘we become completely absorbed, hanging on every pulse and breath of its three youngsters.’ She praised the cast who: ‘all reprising their roles – never put a foot wrong.’ She finished: ‘This is a play that leaves you with an endorphin high: thoughtful, tender and exuberant.’

‘Everything about this play rings true,’ said Heather Neil at The Arts Desk (4★). ‘All three play off each other brilliantly…A study of enduring friendship in difficult circumstances could be sentimental, but the writing and performances ensure that is not the case here.’ For Alexander Cohen at Broadway World (4★), ‘Daniel Bailey’s production glistens with the spectacle of the teenagers’ dreams.’ His only caveat is that ‘Williams plays a safe game when it comes to the drama’s trajectory which unravels in a neatly predictable pattern.’

Here are two reviews from the previous run at the Bush Theatre. Miriam Gillinson in The Guardian (4★) said it was a ‘feel-good, emotionally impactful and richly contemporary triumph.’ She continued: ‘Meticulously mined details hold his script together (the structure isn’t perfect) and create a convincing bond between these friends.’ Theo Bosanquet at Whats On Stage (4★) talked about ‘Tyrell Williams’ sharp, funny and deeply poignant debut full-length play‘ and said: ‘Director Daniel Bailey ensures the entire 90 minutes (naturally) fizzes with energy.’

Nick Curtis in The Standard (4★) commented: ‘It’s still rare to see a play about young, black, working-class youths on our stages: rarer still to see one in which they are celebrated like this’ and complimented ‘Bailey’s energetic, artfully staged production.’

Susannah Clapp in The Observer (4★) name-checks the young stars: ‘Francis Lovehall, Emeka Sesay and Kedar Williams-Stirling act with 3D expressiveness.’

Average critic rating (out of 5) 4★

Value rating  73 (Value rating is the Average critic rating divided by the typical ticket price. In theory, this means the higher the score the better value but, because of price variations, a West End show could be excellent value if it scores above 30 while an off-West End show may need to score above 60. This rating is based on opening night prices- theatres may raise or lower prices during the run.)

Red Pitch can be seen at @sohoplace until 4 May 2024. Click here to buy tickets directly from the theatre

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