Concrete Hearts is more than a remote theatrical production. It is a digital live experience, written and performed by young people. Together, they create Drilling Diamonds – a programme for the youth for whom witnessing crime and violence could constitute their daily routine, led by Playing ON charity.
Therefore, the show undoubtedly touches upon valid and extremely current topics. The plot oscillates around the death of Kane, killed in a gang fight and subsequently, contrastive concepts of grief within his community. His cousin, JJ releases a track glorifying violence that raises different reactions among members of his family.
However, the story in Concrete Hearts goes deeper and unravels secrets and issues of all the characters somehow related to one another – brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, boyfriends and girlfriends. Primarily, it delivers an honest depiction of the black community and constitutes a refreshing counterbalance to mass media, still not handling the problem of misrepresentation. The text of the play, written by Michael Amaning deserves the applause as the short but content-full dialogues accurately capture the whole wide range of emotions and relationships. The oxymoronic title perfectly conveys the show’s conflicting values – violence, crime and aggression on the one hand, and grief, loyalty, concern and family on the other.
The interactive form of Concrete Hearts should be noticed too. The live event combines excerpts from the film, live hot seating of the characters and community conversation, all interlaced with the original tracks written by the company. ‘The Role of a Woman’ deserves particular attention as it is not only catchy but also, extremely touching.
The live hot seating of the characters does not seem so convincing, due to both not the greatest quality of the live stream (the ongoing problem of the remote theatre) and quite an artificial, static setting. The excerpts from the film, however, are far more gripping as the young people from Drilling Diamonds developed an interesting socially distanced filming method. It is not a simple Zoom call; instead, the phones are filmed from above to show the conversations between the characters. This method definitely delivers a bigger picture and brings the characters closer together. Moreover, even different phone models belonging to different characters contribute somehow to their diverse depiction.
Even if some of the young actors are not as great as Tavoi Warren (KT) in the role of JJ and they do not face up to big themes such as DON’T GLORIFY VIOLENCE or WISDOM OF A WOMAN, the show is definitely worth seeing, even for the involvement and passion of these young hearts, made of something way softer than concrete.