Inside - Review

Camden playwright Philip Osment offers a fascinating insight into the lives of fathers in prison – in INSIDE at the Roundhouse Studio Theatre in Chalk Farm Road, NW1

THIS riveting play about seven young fathers detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure deserves a run in the main Roundhouse space itself after this one in the tiny Studio Theatre upstairs.

Based on research with real prisoners, Inside’s inmates have signed up to a series of educational workshops to escape the boredom of the wing. However, role-plays and heated discussions lead them to confront agonising relationships with their kids and own dads.

Acclaimed Camden writer Philip Osment’s play began life in 2007 as part of a National Youth Theatre (NYT) outreach programme for disadvantaged young people, run by his co-director Jim Pope who also plays a group leader in this superb production.

Many of this cast are graduates of the NYT programme, and the first version of Inside played to a rapt audience at Cookham Wood young offenders’ institution. Reality and fiction playfully intertwine.

Roundhouse audiences will find it easy to forget we’re watching actors and that the venue’s stark exposed brick walls and metal bars aren’t those of a genuine prison. The compelling performances are raw yet touching - now shouting, violent, now joking around, now emotionally shot to pieces.

For those who like their theatre realistic, relevant, heart-warming and heart-wrenching, this is the real thing. It just needs a bigger venue so more people can experience life Inside.