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King Hamlin at Park Theatre

In some ways, what Hamlin (Harris Cain) experiences in the job market is common to people just starting out in the world of work – it’s difficult to get employment without sufficient experience, but then it’s difficult to get sufficient experience without employment. When I first started, I didn’t secure work by applying for jobs in the conventional manner and attending interviews – I went to employment agencies and got my foot in the door through temping. The agency would send my CV off to prospective clients and it wasn’t long before I was earning an hourly wage.

King Hamlin - Credit Steve Gregson
King Hamlin – Credit Steve Gregson.

These days, however, more often than not, there’s an interview process even for temporary jobs, and for Hamlin, whose mother (Kiza Deen) – who is only referred to as either Mum by Hamlin, or otherwise as Mrs King by Quinn (Inaam Barwani) and Nic (Andrew Evans) – there is an added complication. Hamlin’s father having died within the last year and his mother herself struggling to find secure full-time employment, they must do without an internet connection, and without a computer: not only are interviews on Zoom difficult (although technically possible as he does have a mobile telephone) but working from home, which many employers not only embrace but apparently now stipulate, isn’t an option.

Interestingly, this is far more of a social commentary on contemporary society than it is a political one (a glorious relief, perhaps, given the parliamentary turmoil at the time of writing). That said, the second half involves even more shouting than the cacophony of sound produced at Prime Minister’s Questions, and even the Victoria line on the way home was a welcome relief from the noise of the show. Despite the play’s title, Hamlin isn’t the only character to declare himself ‘king’ – though quite what they were ruling over wasn’t exactly crystal clear, at least not to me.

A wide range of contemporary issues are brought to the fore, and it isn’t always immediately clear if a given scene is indoors or outdoors. Somewhat disorienting at first, the production makes the point that what happens in, say, a back alley at night, doesn’t necessarily stay there. Such is the complexity of life. The mother figure is perceptive, fighting what she has reason to believe could well be a futile battle but pursuing it nonetheless. Having worked in a youth club before it was shut down (because, y’know, cuts) her concern is not only for her son but for the next generation as a whole: decent opportunities are hard to come by at the best of times, and the lure of criminal activity when ‘legit’ doors are closed is difficult to resist. The rent needs to be paid one way or another – money talks, and crime pays.

Ben Jacobs’ lighting design works well, with night-time scenes allowing elements of the set (as well as the white paper of your reviewer’s notepad) to glow. The show’s context is explained in a way that is accessible as it is artificial, jarring as it does with the rapid and aggressive dialogue of the three youngsters. I was frankly baffled by Nic – if Quinn and Hamlin are as useless and inept as he says they are, why bother having anything to do with them at all? Otherwise, a lot of the narrative is credible. While the actors put in some intense and energetic performances, it really didn’t need to be quite so shouty – at one point I felt like I was at the seaside listening to flocks of seagulls squawking as loud as possible. I suppose it’s marginally better than not being able to hear what is being said in the first place.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Against the backdrop of urban London, King Hamlin follows young friends Hamlin, Quinn and Nic as they experience the tensions of a friendship punctured by pride, revenge and turf wars.

Hamlin’s goal is to finish school, get a good job, and build a better life for himself and his mum, Mama H. But when live-wire Quinn and troubled Nic offer Hamlin easy money in return for some county line drug trafficking, his dreams, his mother’s hopes and the friendship of the three are put to the test.

Will Hamlin stand his ground or end up on the wrong side of the tracks?

Naiad Productions & Freedom Tongues in association with Park Theatre present the World Premiere of
King Hamlin
By Gloria Williams
Directed by Lara Genovese

CAST:
INAAM BARWANI | QUINN
HARRIS CAIN | HAMLIN
KIZA DEEN | MAMA H.
ANDREW EVANS | NIC

CREATIVES:
WRITER/PRODUCER | GLORIA WILLIAMS
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/DESIGNER | LARA GENOVESE
LIGHT DESIGNER | BEN JACOBS
SOUND DESIGNER | EDWARD LEWIS
COSTUME DESIGNER AND CREATIVE ASSISTANT | ELODIE CHIPER
STAGE MANAGER | MELISSA BERRY
GRAPHIC DESIGNER | SHANN LARSSON

With the support of:
Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England www.artscouncil.org.uk
Alt Africa (Bespoke going out guide celebrating diversity) www.alt-africa.com
A Fairer Chance (Reducing reoffending through employment)
A.S.I.P. (Adolescent Support Intervention Project)
Damian Sasse – The Bearded Butler (Sustainable Design and Build) www.thebeardedbutler.co.uk
Regis Road Recycling Centre

King Hamlin
By Gloria Williams
Previews: Wed 19 & Thu 20 Oct
Plays: Wed 19 Oct – Sat 12 Nov
Press Night: Mon 24 Oct
https://parktheatre.co.uk/

Related News & Reviews Past https://parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/king-hamlin/& Present

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1 thought on “King Hamlin at Park Theatre”

  1. Today 27th October I went to see King Hamlin and thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is very good and the acting fantastic. I got quite emotional at the end.
    Go see it x

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