If you did your raving in the 1990s, you’ll know that Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s latest play takes its name from the certified banger that catapulted Shanks and Bigfoot to the ranks of garage royalty.
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy is a coming-of-age adventure. Bounty (Michael Levi Fatogun) and Mars (Andrew Umerah) are two young men with diametrically opposed personalities, but they have more in common than it would first seem. In their story God is a DJ. She rests atop a cluster of council estate tower blocks guiding the audience through the narrative with a selection of seminal tracks from each year – from Soul II Soul’s Back to Life and General Levy’s Incredible to Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mack – and, of course, the eponymous track.
Though set in an inner city, the play is far from the usual bang-bang gangland fodder; it looks at the big issues that society so often dictates men should not concern themselves – mental ill health, self love and identity.
The scenography – set design by Tara Usher, sound by Shade Joseph and lighting by Bethany Gupwell – is evocative of the decade. It’s all 3310s, pagers, shell suits and leather bomber jackets. There’s a fight scene ingeniously choreographed in the style of Mortal Kombat, complete with sound effects (bravo, movement director Sean Graham).
The piece might have worked better with a larger cast – there are just four actors for the 15 characters. But otherwise, it is nostalgic perfection.