"Violent, vibrant and ultimately moving."
by Janet Locke on 17/08/10

ZIP: Gun and Knife Crime theatre project
A Streetdance Musical

Giant Olive Theatre Company at the Lion and Unicorn, Kentish Town.

Written by Ray Shell, Sarah Bennet and James Kenwood and directed by Ray Shell.

Directionless, aimless, without hope, despairing - all of these but not the play, just the characters within the play. ZIP is a tightly directed piece with a talented, vibrant and energetic ensemble company. There is a large cast of sixteen young people all with stories to tell; searing accounts of their lives in areas with high proportions of gun and knife crime.

Some lines in ZIP stick in the mind long after the play finishes and give a new dimension to the young people caught up in the downward spiral of poor parenting, lack of education, no ambition and toxic surroundings. "My mother only fostered for the money," strikes a chill when we see the result of the upbringing of the teenager desperately hoping to belong and finding comfort and self-esteem in the gang culture. He is certainly a lost cause, and soul, and will end up a victim of the culture he espouses.

The gangs ape contemporary society by setting up a hierarchy within and operating on what they see as business lines - a sort of Mafia microcosm. Bravado and bullying are the keynotes in the gangs and new members are obliged to prove themselves with acts of senseless violence which add to the anomie prevalent in the groups.

ZIP is a short play, just over one hour, but packs a significant punch with excellent singing and energetic choreography. It is difficult to single out anyone from the excellent cast members but James Kenward as Selky, a musical narrator, and Brandon Lee Henry as Lexus shine. Ray Schell partly scripted the play and then allowed the actors themselves to draw on their own experiences and a fine drama has emerged. It is rare that a production involving what would be considered unsympathetic characters evokes sympathy and understanding in the audience for the plight of youngsters they would not want to meet on a dark night. And youngsters they are, albeit abused, misunderstood and generally without hope. While deploring their behaviour the end of the play indicates all too well what lies ahead for them and is genuinely moving.

Zip is part of the Camden Fringe season and will be presented again on 23rd -29th August and some extra dates in the first week of September.

6th August 2010 5pm
13th, 14th, 15th August 2010 3.30pm
31st August - 5th

Other recent reviews of ZIP: Gun & Knife Crime
ZIP: Gun & Knife Crime
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