"repeatedly and successfully reaches for the audience’s heartstrings"Photo/ Thea Melton

Heroes, written by Chakira Alin and directed by Dixie McDevitt, is a sensitive exploration of friendship, fatherhood and working class communities. Well-deserving of the Marlowe Prize it won last year, the play demonstrates that student writing is capable of bringing vital and unique voices to the stage. Its interweaving of themes of race, community and youthful hope is touching and compelling, and this production succeeded in largely sustaining the energy of the piece throughout its 90 minute run time.

“Student writing is capable of bringing vital and unique voices to the stage”

Chakira Alin, fresh from a successful one-woman show earlier this term, has produced a script that is timely and full of heart. At once effective and affecting, the cast move deftly from moments of bantering comedy to touching reflections on fatherhood. Alin writes her characters with a great deal of compassion, resulting in an immediate connection between the audience and the characters. The idiosyncrasies of the characters are often a source of comedy, but the lives of the residents of the estate are never two-dimensional or simply comic relief. Indeed, Alin actively refutes the stereotypes about housing estates that permeate British media and culture. The banter between neighbours felt largely unforced and natural.

The cast worked especially well in group scenes, creating a lively atmosphere and convincing relationships. In contrast, the more serious moments later in the play punched through, powerfully delivered by Jono (Yoel Mulugheta in a ADC debut) with a matching forceful physical performance.

“Actively refutes the stereotypes about housing estates that permeate British media”

There was a particularly touching monologue half-way through the play: a wonderful articulation of both the intimate bond between the focal character Jono and his closest friend Sol (Jacob Benhayoun). Benhayoun, making his debut on the ADC main stage, shines as Sol, an open, playful figure who the other characters rely on for emotional guidance. Benhayoun captures Sol’s cheeky bravado, youthful optimism and deep affection for his friends in a performance that is charming and engaging.

Mulugheta’s performance as the tumultuous Jono met the demands of the most complex character in the script; the role required that he balance a lot of contradictory emotions, and Mulugheta rose to the challenge. For me, the relationship between Jono and Sol – best friends and pseudo-brothers – was the highlight of the play. While not as dramatically gripping as other elements of the plot such as the relationship between Jono and his biological father, it had the most depth of feeling and brought out the strongest performances of the night for both actors.

The friendship at the heart of the play is additionally praiseworthy in a wider theatrical context: it was refreshing to see working class men on stage who are not portrayed as repressed or emotionally stunted. The openness and affection between the two male friends was an honest and refreshing exploration of masculinity in working class communities. On a similar note, Alin’s reflections on race in Heroes are searing, and seamlessly integrated into the script as personal reflections by Sol.


Mountain View

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Ultimately, the play’s primary strength is its ability to repeatedly and successfully reach for the audience’s heartstrings. Equipped with Alin’s honest and witty representation of a community and strong central performances, Heroes is a touching and worthwhile lateshow that I’d strongly recommend seeing.

Heroes is playing at the ADC from Wednesday 23rd February - Friday 25th February at 11pm.