Friday Play - RIP Boy
Eleven years ago Zahid Mubarek was beaten to death by his cellmate, teenager Robert Stewart in Feltham Young Offenders Institution. In Neil McKay's new factual drama, prison offer John acts as our narrator, leading us through an overloaded prison system to reveal how a known racist with psychopathic tendencies ended up sharing a cell with a quiet Asian lad serving only 90 days for petty theft.
Stewart's manipulative actions get him moved round the country from one YOI to another as his behaviour becomes increasingly violent and erratic, from tattooing RIP onto his forehead, to inciting the murder of a fellow inmate during a cookery class. He eventually ends up in the huge, overcrowded nightmare that is Feltham, where cells designed for one hold two, and boys are banged up for twenty-three hours out of twenty-four. Astonishingly, Stewart's long record of violence and racist behaviour fails to reach Swallow wing, where the only spare bed is in Zahid Mubarek's cell.
It is now ten years since Zahid's death and many of the recommendations of the public inquiry have still not been fully implemented. Prisons remain overcrowded and overstretched. Violence is rife. More than 70% of prisoners suffer two or more mental health disorders. As prison officer John in the play observes: "But it's all out of sight so we keep it out of mind. It shouldn't be, for the sake of everyone. Zahid could have been your son or mine. Remember him. Remember his name. Zahid Mubarek."
RIP Boy is written by Bafta award-winning TV dramatist Neil McKay (Mo, See No Evil, Dunkirk, The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper) who specializes in dramatizing stories about real lives. Matthew NcNulty (Five Days, Unforgiven, The Mark of Cain) plays Robert Stewart and Ross Boatman (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Cassandra's Dream) plays John. Zahid Mubarek is played by Darren Kuppan who has just appeared in East is East at Birmingham Rep.
Robert Stewart ..... Matthew NcNulty
John ..... Ross Boatman
Zahid Mubarek ..... Darren Kuppan
Jamie Barnes ..... Ashley Gerlach
Karen Stewart, Nurse ..... Fiona Clarke
Prison Officers ..... Nick Underwood
Prison Officers ..... Greg Wood
Travis ..... John Cattrell
Simmo ..... James Adler
Directed by Melanie Harris. This is a Red production for BBC Radio 4.