Fox Hunting as a title evokes the countryside battles between the government and wealthy hunters who chase and kill for sport. But at the Courtyard Theatre, 21-year old playwright David Alade’s Fox Hunting is a compelling piece of verbatim theatre about inner-city knife crime, where innocent young men are turned into killers, victims, and the dead.

Based upon interviews with south Londoners on the topic of knife crime in their area, Fox Hunting tells the story of five young men and how knives have impacted their lives. As Terrel or T, Lawrence, Jake, Joshua and Darral gather at a funeral they are compared to the innocence of a fox run over in the city, or hunted in the fields. As they then tell you their stories in their own words, they dive into and pick apart what it means to be innocent, and how even the smallest event can act as the catalyst to change that.

Often darkly funny, and even more often tear-jerkingly sad, the play casts a feeling of frustration over you that these stories have come to pass, and that until now these voices have been lost in the silence. It’s powerful, punchy stuff that lasts over just an hour and keeps you enthralled from beginning to end.

The performances are what really make this piece. All five actors demonstrate extraordinary talent, jumping in and out of roles to tell each of the boy’s stories. Alade has not just penned this piece but plays Joshua with subtle humour, and poignant honesty, that ensures that the final scenes are full of emotion. He is well supported by Chris J. Gordon, Devante Mavour, Joshua Lewis, and Quinton Arigi.

There isn’t a weak link.

What’s more Fox Hunting, which has been put together by new production company Elah Productions, offers some of the most realistic fight scenes I’ve ever seen, including in national theatre. This is a small, resourceful production and shows that sometimes keeping things simple is the key to success.

This is real life and death. Moving, visceral, and practically perfect performances, Fox Hunting was made to be seen, and Alade’s talent to soar.

Fox Hunting is playing at the Courtyard Theatre until 19 May

Photo: David Alade