Making his stage debut Harris Cain, stars with Inaam Barwani and Andrew Evans as the title role King Hamlin bringing a natural energy to the stage in director Lara Genovese’s King Hamlin.
Penned by Gloria Williams the play takes you into the lives of Hamlin, Quinn (Inaam Barwani) and Nic (Andrew Evans) three young man surrounded by poverty and violence, with turf wars on their doorsteps, William’s play is a exploration of how and why young lives might be taken due to knife crime and how living in certain postcodes and not having enough money to survive can take a very dark turn.
Cain’s Hamlin plays to the innocence of the character at first and we see a likeable Hamlin but his character is controlled by the forces around him, the perceptions of young black and brown men, peer pressure to make easy money and perhaps a little greed.
As his friend Quinn rocks up with new “garms” his dream to finish school, get a good job, and build a better life for himself and his mum, Mama H, (Kiza Deen) start to fade and we see a more anguished Hamlin, Cain’s energy pulls you in as he becomes angry, angry with the system, angry with trying and eventually he caves into to a life that has devastating consequences.
Kiza Deen delivers a flawless performance fuelled by her character’s love and belief in the power of herbs she centres the piece by her calming delivery amongst the tragedy that unfolds. The chemistry between Mama H and Hamlin is natural, organic.
Mama H has a back story, she became a mother at 17 and because Hamlin’s father was white she was estranged from her family, they did not approve.
Andrew Evans’s live-wire Nic brings his own energy, bouncing of the walls with his “bad man” he is troubled a young man, at times a little scary. A broken home has shaped him.
Together Quinn and Nic offer Hamlin easy money in return for some county line drug trafficking, putting the friendship of the three boys to the test.
The play set designed by Genovese sees the inner city come to life with graffiti around the whole seating area, all of the action takes place in Mama H space where she grows her herbs, sage in particular and her front room.
Genovese’s direction propellers a story that needs to be told and with all round good performances this is one which younger audiences should see.
King Hamlin is at Park theatre, London, until 12 November