Zoonation's Some Like It Hip Hop
Hall for Cornwall, Truro
Review by Lee Trewhela
"IT'S got a story and everything," said my budding nine-year-old hip hop dancer in awe during the interval of this part-dance show, part-musical, part-dystopian fairytale.
It is indeed unusual for what is basically a showcase for contemporary moves to contain an engaging narrative, albeit a simple one, together with one of the best original soundtracks I've heard in the theatre for quite some time.
It's easy to see why its director, co-writer, choreographer and self-confessed control freak Kate Prince is being lauded from on high – this is a new form of musical that manages to take the cool and not make it immediately cheesy on the transition from street to theatre.
The story concerns a city where the leader has blotted out the sun, banned books and ensured women are subservient to men. Two young women fight back, are "rejected" beyond the city walls, but return dressed as men resulting in all manner of shenanigans.
The result is as playful as Some Like It Hot and Twelfth Night, from which the show takes loose influence, but also surprisingly emotive when we find out why Governor Okeke (Duwane Taylor) has lost the plot. His contorted, grief-stricken "krumping" was one of the most affecting dances I've ever seen.
The dancers are all amazing as are the two vocalists – Elliote Williams-N'Dure deserves a special mention for her soul belter of a voice. The show was held together by Ross Green as the Narrator, who belied his Cornish roots (his first youthful performance was on the same stage) with a stentorian Welsh boom. He also proved a dab hand at the lost Cornish art of beatboxing ....
Perhaps the real star is Filipino Londoner Danilo 'DJ' Walde, the show's composer, musical director (alongside Josh Cohen) and one of its performers. Taking a wide array of dance music, from Motown and hip hop to electro and dubstep, he has constructed a set of memorable, vibrant pop songs whose incessant rhythms had the entire audience, from 7 to 70, on their feet and punching the air by the end.
It was just a shame we only had this stunning production in Cornwall for two nights.
One of the most exciting productions I've seen in the Hall for Cornwall's 15-year existence.