Tag Archives: Ben Stones

Some Like it Hip Hop

★★★★★

Peacock Theatre

Some Like it Hip Hop

Some Like it Hip Hop

Peacock Theatre

Reviewed – 24th October 2019

★★★★★

 

“Some of the moves were so athletic and gravity defying that they induced audible gasps of disbelief from those watching”

 

Almost exactly eight years to the day, Zoonation’s show returns to the theatre where it staged its world premiere for a short revival.

A grieving Governor is so heart-broken, that he obscures the sun, bans books and exiles women. Two ladies in not so much of a nod, more of an affectionate wink to Some Like It Hot and Twelfth Night, sneak back into the city dressed as men and try to blend in, producing much hilarity and unexpected love.

An impressive set flies in and out with military precision and is so slick that it almost matches the staccato movement of the surrounding dancers. Lighting is sombre, matching the mood of the governor and yet is always precisely on point. Costumes are suitably ‘street’ and are cleverly designed to give the actors all the room they need for the lightening quick movement required.

You could pick holes in the script, yet I’m fairly confident that not a single person in the packed auditorium was there to find a sub-plot, they were there for the dance and boy what a treat they had.

The story was told by a narrator and my only quibble was that he was not always easy to understand, cutting off the end of his sentences and sometimes being drowned out by the score. The two female singers had rich, soulful voices that complemented each other beautifully and effortlessly filled the theatre.

Some Like it Hip Hop is an ensemble piece and all the dancers clearly have a trust and respect for each others work and great humour is injected into the show. As the Governor, (Christian Alozie) is strong, masculine and as moody as the World that he has created, his rooted to the spot krumping is a joy to behold. The two lead ladies are terrific. Jo-Jo (Lizzie Gough) is quirky and delightfully complements her love interest Simeon. Kerri (Jade Hackett) with one lucky punch, is looked upon as more of a man than all the hunks surrounding her and makes the most of all her humorous moments in both her movement and facial expression. Simeon (Tommy Franzen) is extraordinary. His dancing is clean, controlled and seemingly effortless, with every move, however small, having a purpose.

So many scenes were memorable, a clever section with six characters all restlessly going to sleep, an extremely funny song ‘Rules Of Seduction’ and the final battle for supremacy ramps the acrobatic dance moves to a whole new level.

I was delighted to see that the audience was made up of mostly teenagers and children, I was treated to the most amazing curtain call I have ever seen with each actor having a short dance isolation whilst the rest of the cast mirrored their movements in a surrounding horseshoe. Some of the moves were so athletic and gravity defying that they induced audible gasps of disbelief from those watching.

This is a high energy, incredibly skilful show that will live in the memory for a long time. I’m not sure if it’s good form for a reviewer to stand up and join in the dancing at the end of the show but I did.

At the very beginning of the evening, we were encouraged by the narrator to make as much noise as possible. That is exactly what happened and what a happy, excited noise it was.

 

Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by Johan Persson

 


Some Like it Hip Hop

Peacock Theatre until 9th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★ | February 2018
The Snowman | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Tango Fire | ★★★★ | January 2019
Hotel | ★★★★ | February 2019
Yamato – Passion | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Beats On Pointe | ★★★ | May 2019

 

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The Watsons

★★★★

Menier Chocolate Factory

The Watsons

The Watsons

Menier Chocolate Factory

Reviewed – 1st October 2019

★★★★

 

“witty and intelligent in a way that both complements and complicates Austen”

 

Emma Woodhouse is one of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters – but what of Emma Watson? Austen abandoned her first Emma, heroine of the unfinished novel The Watsons, in 1805. Since then, several authors have sought to give Emma the ending she deserves.

Laura Wade is the latest writer to undertake the challenge, though she has the distinction of being a playwright rather than a novelist. Nor is she a relative of Austen’s, as many early contributors to The Watsons were. But, despite her apparent distance, Wade is more deeply involved than any of her predecessors.

Emma Watson (Grace Molony) was sent to live with her aunt as a child and now returns, aged nineteen, to the modest family estate. Sent straight into society, she soon has the attentions of three local men. But, just as she accepts a proposal from awkward aristocrat Lord Osborne (Joe Bannister), Laura (Louise Ford) bursts into the story to stop Emma making a terrible mistake. What follows is the story that Laura wants to tell, the story behind the telling of it, and the story of the characters that won’t let her have her way.

Even for those who aren’t Austen fans (me), The Watsons is a joy to watch. Wade’s script is witty and intelligent in a way that both complements and complicates Austen. She adds plenty of commentary, some of it topical, but much of it personal, about the struggle to write and the pressure of storytelling. In mixing her story with Austen’s, she manages to preserve what is special about the original work whilst amplifying it to new heights.

But what of the all-important end? Wade leaves us with just a taster of what is to come, but no more. Her strategy for finishing the story is as smart as the story itself, but does feel a tad rushed. There is not much insight given as to why Emma chooses to give Laura back control. I can only assume that she felt lost or afraid, but this is just speculation. A definite answer could really have cemented this, and given the audience a greater sense of Emma’s inner self.

One thing that cannot be faulted is the acting. There is not a single performance that does not hit its mark. Molony is a brilliant heroine, at once endearing and infuriating as she demands the right to tell her own story – at any cost. Louise Ford is so convincing a Laura that, for a second, you forget that there is another Laura, writing this Laura and everything else that’s going on. It is hard to choose the highlights of the remaining cast. Performances that immediately spring to mind are Jane Booker’s haughty Lady Osborne, Sally Bankes’ no nonsense Nanny, and Sophie Duval’s Mrs Robert – who, despite being ‘not in it very much’ makes her presence felt at all times. Credit must also be given to designer Ben Stones, whose blank page of a stage is the perfect space for Wade’s experimentation.

Despite initial reservations, this is one of the most enjoyable pieces of theatre I have seen in a while, full of energy and wit that even Austen herself would have found impressive. And I think I quite like Jane Austen now, which means that, not only has Laura Wade written an excellent play, she has done the impossible.

 

 

Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Manuel Harlan

 


The Watsons

Menier Chocolate Factory until 16th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Gronholm Method | ★★★★ | May 2018
Fiddler on the Roof | ★★★★★ | December 2018
The Bay At Nice | ★★½ | March 2019
Orpheus Descending  | ★★★★ | May 2019

 

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