Reviewed – 23rd October
“The fusing of electrifying lyrics, with impeccable delivery and an empowering story, was genius”
After a sell-out show at The Roundhouse and another outing at Latitude, this performance was brought to our homes as part of the Black Gold Arts Festival, in collaboration with Contact Manchester. Lil.Miss.Lady merges dramatic storytelling with rave in order to explore the immersive history of grime through the eyes of one female MC. The show was inspired by a series of interviews with influential women in the grime scene, such as Lady Stush, Lioness, Queenies, and Baby Blue. Starring Lady Lykez, Fahad Shaft, Westerfield Oreoluwa Ibikunle Shoderu, and Michael Mbozo.
Jumping into the virtual room, the audience were told to grab a drink, don some sunglasses, turn the lights off, and experience an at-home rave. Effectively, it was a mass zoom dance party. There was an initial DJ set, which merged grime history with ad-lib rapping, in order to immerse the audience into the world as well as the high-level energies to come. The form changed too, from karaoke to calling-upon audience members, to a full physicalising of the music. It was intoxicating. The music was also varied, filled with throwbacks and repetitive beats. Technicolour blared across the screen, and the tech team spotlighted members of the audience, dancing in their living rooms. This was a particular highlight, as it encouraged an interactive experience that felt uplifting and respectful. Another highlight was the roaming, hand-held camera, which allowed the audience to have a full, live, panoramic experience of the space as well as the facial expressions of the performers, through an intimate perspective. This made the performance far more personal, and for a moment, I forgot that I was sat in my kitchen. It also gave autonomy to the audience, who could choose their own viewpoint.
The crux of the action centred around a 2018 recording of Lil.Miss.Lady: her journey from football-loving teen, to teenage star, through fluctuating personal issues, to the present day. The eponymous character was played by the limitless Lady Lykez; the skill with which she oozed personality and emotion into the sheer poeticism of her lyrics was astounding. She encompassed every age, with authenticity and presence; I only wish that I had experienced it without the medium of a screen. There were some technical issues, but these were to be expected, and did not detract from the overall performance. However, what struck me the most was Little Miss Lady’s story; she not only made her name within the grime industry, but she also stood up to, and rose above her male counterparts. This was particularly clear in the scenes with Fahad Shaft, Westerfield Oreoluwa Ibikunle Shoderu, and Michael Mbozo. Their dynamics shifted and were infused with humour and familiarity, but it was their ultimate respect for LML’s talents that shone through. Gender power dynamics were removed, and artistry became the sole focus. This beautifully interwoven narrative marked the moment, for me, in which theatre and music met.
The fusing of electrifying lyrics, with impeccable delivery and an empowering story, was genius.
Reviewed by Alice Chambers
Photography by Camilla Greenwell