A Kind of People: Royal Court Theatre
Gary and Nicky were ‘It’. Nicky was the hottest girl in her year at school and Gary had big dreams. He was going to drive an MG, wear a double breasted suit and sport brand new Rolex on his wrist. They didn’t need anyone, not even Nicky’s dad – who had disowned her for seeing a black guy. It was 1994, and cuddled up on the roof of their flats, new love and hope is in the air: “the city yeah..it’s gonna be all ours”.
Fast-forward 20 years later. Gary (Richie Campbell) has been working as an electrician for over a decade. Nicky (Claire-Louise Cordwell) is a bar-maid part time, while raising their three children. Money is tight and tensions get even tighter when Gary and his colleague Mark (Thomas Coombs) , invite their white, middle-class manager, Victoria (Amy Morgan), back to Gary’s council flat to join his friends and family for Friday night drinks.
The flat is lively. Prosecco is flowing and music is playing. Victoria, who has had way too much to drink, starts dancing and demands that ‘as his superior’, Gary must teach her how to ‘twerk’. Gary declines awkwardly, but Victoria doesn’t stop there. While rapping along loudly to Missy Elliott’s ‘Get ur Freak On’, Victoria says the ‘N’ word. The audience, who had been laughing along so far suddenly gasp. The room is silent.
Although bundled in a taxi, home, Victoria’s behaviour that night stays with Gary, becoming the catalyst for events in the rest of the play.
When Gary is turned down for a promotion as team leader the next week – a position which he knows should have been his – he is forced reflect on his life so far and confront his place in the world. Then after a heated confrontation with Victoria, Gary quits his job, putting increasing pressure on his family’s finances. Nicky fails to understand why, and she goes to Victoria to ask for his job back. Gary is fuming. Feeling completely alienated by the woman he has loved for over 20 years, Gary walks out on Nicky, in what is an explosive, heart-wrenching scene that stays with you long after the play ends.
Gurpreet Bhatti’s play is a tragic and honest exploration of what often happens to the hopes and dreams of working class, multicultural Londoners. She asks, how is it possible to get on when the odds are stacked against you? And offers no easy answers.
Buffong’s precise direction and Bhatti’s brilliant use of dialogue and a stellar cast (including Richie Campbell who is stand out), have resulted in a powerful piece of theatre that is easily The Royal Court at its very best.
At the Royal Court Theatre until Saturday January 18 2020