dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Audience taken onto the building site
Lightpost Theatre Company's production Constructed finally reached the stage at Birmingham Repertory Theatre after previous attempts were scuppered by lockdowns. But it was worth the wait.
Written by C J Lloyd Webley, the show takes us onto a construction site where a group of guys enjoy what they believe to be a strong workplace camaraderie. Spending their days swapping matey banter and 'watching each other's backs', they don't earn a fortune but have their own close-knit community. But when tools start going missing, there are rumours of potential job losses and some new people join the team, the men discover their loyalties may not run as deep as they had believed.
Webley's writing is wonderfully nuanced – we quickly decipher the different characters, understanding their strengths but also their weaknesses. It would have been easy for the story to pit good guys against villains but Constructed shows us that people are rarely that simple. Those who are dishonest may be pushed to the extreme, those who want to support their friends may feel unable to and those who run the company have their own problems.
All the cast are strong, imbuing their characters with their own personalities so we feel we know each and every man on the construction site by the end of the 90-minute show.
James Nicholson is the boss Marlon, who has seen his own dreams disappear by the wayside. He's cutting corners and absent for long periods of time but we still feel some sympathy for him as he attempts to keep the work on track and stop the stealing. Janeel Brown is Ethan, Marlon's son, who is looking to create his own career path and manage a difficult relationship with his father.
Lightpost Theatre Company
Jerome Scott plays the troubled Rodney, keen to get on in the company and yet hampered by his own impulsiveness and a need to support a daughter with multiple sclerosis. And Ibrahim Ibrahim is Cal, Rodney's long-term close friend who sees the friendship disintegrating in the rivalries of the workplace.
Directed by Webley and Mathias André and designed by Kevin Michael Reed, the set is simple, a few pieces of scaffolding and some platforms, but the removal of the front rows of seating at The Rep brings the audience into the action so we too become part of the building site.
Lightpost Theatre Company emerged from Up My Street, a partnership which aimed to support mental health in young black men through theatre. And while the participants may be benefiting from creating the work, Constructed shows the company is also capable of producing thought-provoking and well-acted drama. Most of the performances in the three-day run are sold out which is a testament to the success of Lightpost. As the first drama to be staged at The Rep in over a year, it is also encouraging to see local talent back on stage – exactly where it should be.