About halfway through Boujie, Hassan Govia’s debut play now showing at the Drayton Arms Theatre, an audience member dropped their phone. The clatter it made was about the most interesting moment in the entire play, which sadly does not live up to its promise of being a ‘lively, character driven comedy.’
Instead, it is a dry and rather pedestrian exploration of the impact of professional success on a group of friends. Devin (also played by Govia), an entertainment blogger, hosts a housewarming for three of his friends (and two interlopers whose frequent interruptions are exhausting, rather than comedic). As the night progresses, revelations about finances, family dramas and relationships shatter the friendships between the characters, and lead to disaster.
The actors deliver good performances and are generally well-cast (although Cristal Cole as Devin’s ‘ghetto’ sister Giselle feels particularly forced) but unfortunately the script doesn’t give them much to work with. Almost every single character is burdened with several hefty, moralising monologues throughout the play, on such righteous topics as the state of the NHS, the reliability of the press, house prices in London, and the problems with capitalism. Giles (Freddy Gaffney) on the other hand, serves as a stereotype of a posh white man, bumbling into the apartment to quaff Verve and babble racist remarks at the other characters.
Hassan Govia could have done so much more with the characters he created. Mental health, loneliness, racist microaggressions – countless topics are hinted at and not followed through, at the expense of hearing the characters recycle weary opinions on the problems of modern society. And though the play picks up pace towards the end, by that point the damage is done. The audience are snoring.