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  • Writer's pictureBen Kemper

Mogadishu

Or: If you’re worried about blood spots on your shirt, you shouldn’t go sticking your fingers in magpies.


Mogadishu is a good drama but a horrid play. Its depictions of good people in bad trouble (and vice versa) are suitably gut wrenching, its progression of horrific surprises well tooled, its representations of hard home life and battered psyches fairly realistic. But plays are supposed to draw their audiences in with small gifts and discoverers: sitting through Mogadishu is like getting hit in the face with a dead carp every thirty seconds. And for those of you wondering, No, it has nothing to do with the capital of Somalia.


If your going to steal, steal from the best. Molded largely from the plot of The Crucible, the play describes events over a few weeks in spring in a London public school. A group of afro-anglo students lead by professional delinquent Jason (Kahari Shelton) pick on, mock and attack a turkish student Firas (Johann George). When Amanda (Anne Fogarty), a white teacher, seeks to break up the beating, Jason attacks her physically and shoves her to the floor. Although Amanda is willing to overlook the incident in light of Jason’s troubled home life, the boy coerces his friends to recreate the incident and recast Amanda as a provocateur and racist. While Amanda tries to clear her name, and Jason attempts to keep the ruse going, the shards of the incidents worm their way deeper into the hearts of a wider and wider range of victims.


The only good thing the play had going for it was its cast. Two particularly fine performances were Shelton’s stirling job of tempering his cruelty with the terror and doubt that it sprung from, and Gonzales, portraying Amanda’s troubled daughter Rebecca, shining with particular luster, aptly juggling the rage, regret and acidic wit pouring out from the young heart,


The good intentions of the whites are condescending in the extreme and on paper the Blacks come across as completely irredeemable. There is no room for growth in the characters, of any color. The minute the play begins we see their fates written down in stone and not a letter deviates from that dark doom over the whole two hours.

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