Mogadishu accurately reflects many of the current issues that underpin many of Britain’s state schools, tackling the sombre consequences of false allegations within this system. Enmeshed in an ambiguous location, the story focuses on the repercussions of an incident wherein sympathetic teacher Amanda is pushed to the ground by a young, black student named Jason. Whilst the incident itself may not be significant enough to warrant the ensuing drama, first-time writer Vivienne Franzmann uses her 12 years’ experience as a teacher to weave an intricate web of lies, deceit and fear on the school playground, which is both candid and, at times, sinister.
Some individuals in particular shine as being both truthful and hilarious, especially Fraser James
The complex relationships between both adults and teenagers in Mogadishu are, however, interjected with moments of sheer comic genius. Some individuals in particular shine as being both truthful and hilarious, especially Fraser James as the oblivious Ben. As the young, violent perpetrator Jason, Malachi Kirby displays a demeanor that is grave beyond his years, and Julia Ford as the accused Amanda contrasts her often infuriating reasons for defending Jason’s actions with her dubious parenting methods, revealing a plethora of buried troubles, including themes of self-harm, suicide, inter-racial intercourse and lost memories.
All dark stuff, indeed; yet, whilst impeccably directed by Matthew Dunster, Mogadishu fails to draw in the bulk of the audiences’ sympathy due to the sensational way in which the play is written. Points were explored, even laboured, yet conclusions were not provided. The constantly revolving, prison-like wire set, and the overlapping of scenes as they unfold, are both effective stylistic mechanisms which provide a claustrophobic and overwhelmingly complex set of issues sparked by intricate teacher-student relationships. A fascinating insight into a world left behind by many, Mogadishu is an urgent response to the current situation in and failings of the British education system, yet quite possibly raises more questions than answers.
*** (3 stars)
Runs until 2nd April 2011