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My mate Ali packs a punch

PUBLISHED: 16:49 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010

MEEK: Mojisola Adebayo in Muhammed Ali and Me (Picture by Ludovic des Cognets).

MEEK: Mojisola Adebayo in Muhammed Ali and Me (Picture by Ludovic des Cognets).

AN AMBITIOUS and powerful three-hander play about a girl growing up in foster care in the 1970s will blow you away, writes Marina Soteriou.

AN AMBITIOUS and powerful three-hander play about a girl growing up in foster care in the 1970s will blow you away, writes Marina Soteriou.

Muhammad Ali and Me, at the Oval House Theatre, has three actors playing a multitude of characters in a story about an abused girl

who escapes her loneliness with the help of an imaginary friend.

The friend is none other than motormouth and boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Writer Mojisola Adebayo plays the young girl and Ali with starkly different performances.

She simultaneously manages to capture Ali's annoying brilliance while allowing the audience to identify with the meek heroine, to understand why she needs him to pull her through.

Using physical theatre, song, poetry, magic, speeches by Margaret Thatcher, American history lessons, original fight footage and integrated British Sign Language, on paper this play shouldn't work.

But the powerhouse performances ensure the audience is left breathless.

Charlie Folorunsho, a graduate of the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, has one of those faces you want to clone because one slight movement can reveal a multitude of emotions.

He has real presence and even though he plays a huge number of characters, he manages them all brilliantly, capturing both humour and menace.

Adebayo, who trained with Augusto Boal, founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed, has written an accessible play not short on ambition and, more importantly, it works.

The play continues at the Oval House Theatre until this Saturday.

Tickets are £12 (£6 for concessions) from the box office on 020 7582 7680.

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