Beatboxing, books and banding together – Crongton Knights premieres at the Belgrade Theatre
What do you get if bring together an award-winning YA novel, beatboxing, physical theatre and the producing powerhouse behind 2019’s sell-out production of Noughts and Crosses?
The answer is Crongton Knights, a new staging of Alex Wheatle’s explosive coming of age adventure, making its world premiere at the Belgrade Theatre from 8-22 February.
Adapted for the stage by Emteaz Hussain, Crongton Knights is co-directed by Pilot Theatre’s Esther Richardson (Noughts and Crosses) and the Belgrade’s own 2021 Co-Artistic Director Corey Campbell (Club 2B, Freeman).
Telling the story of a group of teenagers who band together to help a friend in need, the show pulses with inner-city sounds, created through an inventive beatbox soundscape by Conrad Murray and performed live by a multi-talented cast.
“The story is about people coming together and how we are stronger together than apart, that’s the message,” said Alex. “There is so much division these days, and politicians emphasise that division rather than looking at what brings us together. That’s what Crongton Knights is about, that people can come together and that’s powerful, especially if there is something they have come together to fight against.”
At the heart of Crongton Knights is the story of McKay (Olisa Odele, Chewing Gum, Scarborough), who lives on the fictional South Crongton estate. Ever since his mum died, his dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from the door and his older brother is always out on the streets, tempting trouble.
One night, he heads out on a heroic mission to retrieve a mobile phone for his friend Venetia (Aimee Powell, Freeman, Club 2B), which has been taken by her ex-boyfriend, and finds himself facing hood rats on a power trip, violent gangsters and more.
“I just love the way Alex has written the world of Crongton,” says Emteaz. “Even though it’s fictional, I really relate to it because it’s multicultural in an intelligent and intricate way. Theatre can be thought of as a middle class, white, middle-aged arena. I hope because of the company we have, because of Alex and because of the story itself we will attract a diverse audience. We’ve got to just keep at it and keep telling these stories.”
Crongton Knights premieres at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry from 8-22 February ahead of a UK tour.