1/3/10, Royal Court
1hr 50 min, no interval. By Bola Agbaje, whose Detaining Justice S and A saw at the Tricycle last year and liked very much. A said this was more uneven in the writing, but it had an energy and drive that carried it along nicely and some good performances.
The Endz is some ghastly housing estate. David was brought up there. He comes out of prison and pitches up in the flat of his old friends Sharon and Kojo, now an item and expecting their first child. They want out and are planning to buy a house. But their middle-class lifestyle turns out to be built on a mountain of credit card debt: they can't pay their bills.
David is feckless, irresponsible, sexist, a wastrel, lazy, a perpetual adolescent who thinks the world owes him a living and when it won't give him one plays the race card (with dubious success since everyone we see, including officialdom as represented by the woman in the Job Centre, is black).
Sharon is sensible, straight-talking, a nurse -- but an incorrigible spendthrift.
Kojo is weak, unwilling to diss either his wife or his old friend, unable to bring himself to confront his wife about her spending or tackle their huge debts, even when he loses his office job when the company goes into administration thanks to the recession (he doesn't tell her). He tamely goes along with David's plans to make a living as a "small businessman" (drug dealer) on the estate -- and then is shot in a case of mistaken identity by the ten year olds who now control the neighbourhood and whom David refuses to take seriously.
The first half had tremendous energy, and the large black contingent in the audience loved the scenes in which David berates the young receptionist at Kojo's office, and the middle-aged Job Centre lady who gives him sound advice about the need to get a job. There was raucous laughter at every exchange (and a lot of crisp packet rustling from the row behind us which drove the ladies wild, though for once it didn't bother me too much).
Energy flagged in the scene outside a police station when David summons Kojo to give him a lift home (not realising Kojo doesn't have his car with him) and the two sit on the front of the stage while David outlines his plans to go into business.
At the end Kojo and Sharon appear reconciled, having fallen out, both to one another and to the need to start again; David is left alone ranting and shouting centre stage with less and less conviction.
Nice set: the odd desk or hospital bed wheeled on diagonally across the stage as required, a basket ball hoop to signify the open spaces of the Endz; a sofa slid forward from behind the back wall, initially with its back to the audience and facing a huge plasma screen and Sky Plus box which descend from above, later facing the audience with the swish kitchen fitments of Sharon and Kojo's flat slid on from the wings.