In 2003, Dizzee Rascal won the Mercury prize for the seminal grime album Boy in Da Corner, which spoke of teenage life on a London housing estate riddled with “blanks, skanks and street robbery”. Debris Stevenson was 13 at the time and living in an east London estate herself.
Now a grime poet and academic, Stevenson grew up in a white, working-class Mormon family and struggled with bullying at school, the tyranny of religion at home and coming out as pansexual to her mother. Grime became her salvation, she says, and this play is an ode to that art form, performed as a poetic monologue but also a kind of grime musical.
Stevenson is introduced on stage by an MC. It is a high-energy start with dance moves and bursts of Dizzee Rascal. But a few moments in, the drama is stopped by Vyper, a pirate radio DJ played by MC Jammz, who was a part of Stevenson’s early story and who stands up from among the audience to accuse her of appropriating his story. “You writing lyrics about me?”