Theatre review: Warde Street at Park Theatre

You would think the 2005 London bombings and their turbulent aftermath offer more than enough drama for an 80-minute play, but actor-turned-writer Damien Tracey adds to the mix political intrigue, romantic scandal, and not one but two ethnically charged revenge killings. Needless to say, most elements of this sensationalist new work are left fatally underdeveloped.

Warde Street, employing a reverse chronology that serves no purpose other than to flatten the denouement, opens with slippery politician David (Tracey), shacked up with mistress Samiya (Avita Jay), facing further censure when her brother-in-law Ash (Omar Ibrahim) is accused of killing 7/7 widower Eddie (Shane Noone), murderer of Ash’s wife Yasmeenah (Maya Saroya).

The second half flashes back to this deadly encounter in Ash’s Manchester corner shop, and ups the thrill level with an armed hostage situation – director Jenny Eastop wrings some tension out of this, even though we know the outcome. She’s aided by a riveting performance from Noone as shattered Eddie, desperate to trade helpless grief for active vengeance, and solid support from belligerent Ibrahim and empathetic Saroya.

Less effective is the turgid, overlong discussion between Tracey and Jay – who barely convince as people who’ve met before, let alone star-crossed lovers – and reliance on well-worn conflicts, with Samiya observing (stop press!) that PR rules politics, Eddie making sweeping generalisations about Muslim faith and hate preachers, and Ash countering that extremism often stems from marginalisation.

One promising thread is the revelation that Ash, once a hard-partying depressive, only found peace and stability after recommitting to Islam – a life change Eddie sees as another cause of bereavement. The inclusion of additional provocative, unpredictable elements would make Warde Street an engaging dramatic response, rather than melodrama benefitting from association with emotive real events.

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Rating: 2/5 stars

Until October 26.

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