Kingston 14 is a comedic and uncomfortably real, police corruption drama
Kingston 14 is the latest work of award-winning playwright Roy Williams and it is showing at Theatre Royal Stratford East, until April 26th 2014. Tickets are available to purchase from the theatre's website
Police corruption and the effects of post-colonialism are the main themes explored in the unnerving drama that is Kingston 14. Set in modern-day Jamaica, the play follows the story of a British Police officer James (Derek Elroy) - born to Jamaican parents, who is sent to Kingston to investigate the murder of a UK tourist. His investigation, however comes to be compromised with the arrest of Joker - a notorious gang leader (Goldie). His arrest sets the scene for the unravelling secrets, confessions, corruption and death that ensue.
An essential figure, yet not the play's protagonist by far, the Joker's looming presence in the staged jail cell serves as a constant reminder of the corruption and the danger existing within their environment - a danger to which crooked officers: Carl (Charles Venn) and Neil (Ashley Chin) end up falling victims to.
With 95% of the play written in heavy Jamaican patois, subtitle screens were required. For individuals unfamiliar with the dialect, the screens were a distraction as their positioning at both end of the stage made it difficult for what was happening on stage to be the sole focus of the event.
The play contains some suspense and surprises, one of them being the reference to homophobia - something I certainly wasn't expecting in a misogynistic play. The play is loaded with comedy, a useful motif that serves as a relief and a distraction to the play's hard-hitting verbal and physical macho brutality.
The all-male cast also featuring Brian Bovell (Marcus), Trevor Laird (Sarge) and Gamba Cole (Cole) delivered strong, believable and compelling performances, worthy of the applause it received.
Kingston 14 is conscious at its best and can be educative if allowed as it offers a critical view and a truth - enough to pique's one interest as it pertains to the blatant state of corruption of the police and government in many post-colonial countries post their independence.