Beadle-Blair is at the heart of a very special movement. Together with sometimes collaborator John R. Gordon (Skin Deep, Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom, Faggamuffin, Souljah), Beadle-Blair's work puts the audience in a headlock and drags them kicking and screaming into a world of diversity. Taken In is an ensemble piece starring many of the FIT actors - Ludvig Bonin, Duncan MacInnes, Jay Brown et al - most of whom play the disparate souls who fleetingly reside in Trask House, a refuge for the society's rejects. Remember the theme music for Superted? "When he was made, they found something wrong with him: and threw him away like a piece of rubbish!" That sums up the characters who end up in Trask House. "Then, from outer space, a spotty man brought him to life, with his cosmic dust! He took him to a magic cloud..." Rikki Beadle-Blair is the spotty man - social worker Cameron - and Trask House is his magic cloud. His cosmic dust is a lil (sometimes tough) love, respect and a shoulder to cry on. Rikki Beadle-Blair often plays these characters: the big brother, the knight in shining armour; the wise, older, sexy dude. He's a British, male Whoopi Goldberg. His character is the yin to the yang of the mad, broken souls who make up the rest of the cast, an oasis of love and calm and wisdom we all wish we had in our lives. It begs the question, what happens in all the Trask Houses where there isn't a Cameron? Taken In asks some profound questions about how we, as a society, deals with our "Superteds" - the broken toys in the toy box - and forces us to look at how we, the audience (supposedly functional and normal) perceive society's outcasts. I suspect anyone with an ounce of compassion and consciousness came away from Taken In with a different perspective on that guy begging outside the Tube station - and more importantly, on how they react to him. As the saying goes, "There, but for the grace of God." For anyone who doesn't get that, the point is hammered home in one of the plays more sobering moments. Homeless Mikey (Jack Shalloo) is recalling his first kiss on a swing, with troubled posh girl Zoe (Katie Borland): "What do you think happened to her?" Zoe asks. "Do you think she’s looking out of window at a swing now, wondering what happened to you? What happens Mikey? To all little kids on swings? Where do they all go?" We're looking at them, of course. The scene drives home the awful realisation that the broken individuals before us (and all around us) were once blissfully innocent children on swings. Taken In isn't a grim misery-fest, however, and there's laughs a plenty. There isn't a single weak link in the cast: Ludvig Bonin (FIT, Souljah) is spellbinding as childlike, cookie-monster Derek (demonic Sam's incitement to his suicide nearly led to an audience revolt) and Jennifer Daley raised more than a few belly laughs as Vin. Duncan MacInnes' Sam (who Cameron is literally "taken in" by) is deliciously Machiavellian. But it's almost unfair to single anyone out: everyone shines in a tightly plotted narrative that doesn't have an ounce of fat. Rikki Beadle-Blair and his troupe of young actors are a brilliant collision of talent: sexy, electric, heart-pounding, and good for the soul. Taken In is another masterclass in lump-in-the-throat, thought-provoking, raw theatre.
Taken In was written and directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair. It was staged at The Drill Hall, London, on 15-16 April 2010.
Team Angelica Films on YouTube.
Team Angelica Films on Facebook.
Team Angelica Films on MySpace.