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Skeen! must be seen at Oval House Theatre

SKEEN!

Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 January 7:45pm Tickets £8/5

Every youth in this play talks like they just bathed in weed fresh from yardie world, every girl gets mashed more times than sweet potato, is this the truth? This is what living in London today’s all about? SKEEN! is a play that challenges how young people are represented, and how, in a wider context, we choose to represent ourselves.

In his debut play, Writer Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu challenges how young people are represented and how we represent ourselves. Directed by Roy Alexander Weise

SKEEN! is part of the 33% London season, the multidisciplinary arts festival for Young Artists, by Young Artists, at Oval House Theatre. 33% London will also feature live acoustic music, a spoken word night held by The Roundhouse’s poetry collectives Rubix & Elephant, masterclasses from Frantic Assembly and film-maker Kwame Lestrade, and a specially commissioned exhibition of young artists.

Venue Information

Ticket Prices:

SKEEN! : £8 full price, £5 all concessions.

Box office: 020 7582 7680 (open Mon-Sat, 3pm- 8pm). Online sales: www.ovalhouse.com (no fee)

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The UK Corner theatre review: Some like it hip-hop @ Peacock Theatre

Familiar with Zoonation productions, the presence of narrator (Tachia Newall) at the start of Some like it Hip-Hop suggested that a fairytale might be ahead. But the tale spun was dark and not all folklore. In Governor Okeke’s world the sun has been blotted out, books have been banned and women have been sidelined. In their ivory towers men clock in to the room to work. When Jo-Jo Jameson (Lizzie Gough) and Kerri Kimbalaya (the brilliant Teneisha Bonner) sneak into the recreation room in the men’s quarters, the stakes are high as they attempt to hide in the testosterone-fuelled environment. In the speakeasy style den the cards are on the table, but the fun and games are only just beginning for the ladies, as they must launch into a farcical cat and mouse escapade.

Teneisha Bonner as Kerri Kimbalaya

Unhappy to be treated like vermin, the ladies take an as you like it approach donning suits and moustaches so they can join the boys brigade. Shakespeare would be proud of their gender reversal, if only for the light it shines on the male species. But not all the male characters are bad. The protagonist is the nerdy Simeon Sun (Tommy Franzén). DJ Walde underscores Sun’s goofy character and incompetence beautifully as the guitar-playing reject who performs Invisible Me. Walde, who has a voice reminiscent of Robin Thicke, does an excellent job as the shows Composer and Musical Director. He meshes a soundtrack that fuses hip-hop, R&B, jazz and electro. The musical smorgasbord is executed by several other stellar voices belonging to the likes of Elliote Williams-N’Dure and Sheree Dubois whose Aretha Franklin references aptly capture the respect their vocals command.

In this production, the world-class choreography stands out as much as the music and dance becomes a character. The audience is treated to popular dance crazes past and present such as break dancing, crumping, the bogle, the butterfly and the dutty wine. Beyond the rehearsals the dancers are put through their paces and pass every test and assessment with flying colours. While Jameson and Kimbalya fare less favourably with their deception, the activities in the men’s sleep quarters prove both amusing and entertaining not least in Kimbalaya’s post hazing celebrations.

Three of the 19 strong cast

As alliances blossom and illegal substances are consumed, the plot moves on when we meet the Governor’s daughter Oprah (Natasha Gooden – whose warm Liverpudlian accent accentuates her character’s vulnerabilities) and find out what plunged him into darkness, before the rejects rebel, battle style, to unearth the light. But the real story is told with each synchronised and symmetrical line of the dancers’ movement. Each motion conveys emotion. As limbs bounce along to the lyrical script, the audience is reminded about just how exciting kinetic energy can be. From street dance to classical steps, each talented dancer moves the audience with their movement.

L to R: Tommy Franzén as Simeon Sun and Duwane Taylor as Govenor Okeke

Building on the classic film Some Like it Hot, Director, writer and choreographer Kate Prince progresses the story of love in drag by flipping the script. In reverse, these lines paint historical pictures of black music and dance. But the production is very current. Dripping in hip-hop culture it alludes to the genre’s reputation for misogyny. But what is most memorable from the show is not the stereotypes, but the constant dynamism, which leaves audiences dancing in the aisles.

Some Like It Hip-Hop is at Peacock Theatre Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2.

20 Oct – 19 Nov.

For more information visit: http://www.sadlerswells.com/show/ZooNation-Some-Like-It-Hip-Hop

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The UK Corner theatre review: In My Shoes @ Soho Theatre

Sitting directly in front of a comedienne can be dangerous, but the comedy gods smiled on me as I escaped the spotlight that was to shine at the end of the evening. At the start of Angie Le Mar’s one-women show, the light is fully focussed on American diva Falushilah Falashilay (Le Mar’s creation from Funny Black Women on the Edge), who is shoe shopping at the airport lounge. Having just arrived, she is in town to promote her greatest hits.

As she stockpiles shoes as if they are going out of fashion, to the beats of Rihanna’s Please Don’t Stop The Music we meet Rebecca Star, a wannabe model on the verge of unforeseen riches at her job seekers allowance interview. Star would love to step into Falashilay’s glitzy shoes and walk through the streets of fame – anything would be better than living on misery avenue with an abusive father trying to buy his way out of guilt.

While some may question the authenticity of Star’s working class accent being married to the financial assets available for her to inherit, it is easy to be moved by the poignancy of Le Mar’s acting as she emotes vulnerability and youthful insecurity with the slightest wring of her hands and limp leg.

Middle class city executive Valerie Simpson has far more confidence, as we slip into her world to the sounds of Beyonce’s 1+1, we see why. With a trendy home and a successful career, she could be satisfied, but the red wine cannot drown out the sound of Omar’s There’s Nothing Like This from her stereo. With only solitude for company it’s no wonder that she converses with her artwork. In one of the funniest scenes, her walls don’t talk but they wear the most intriguing images that mimic the varying targets of her diatribe – her dog, her ex and her exhausted genitalia.

Angie Le Mar kept the laughs coming

The woes of single women are contrasted with woes of trainers geek and peer mentor Dupre McKenzie. The way Le Mar speedily transitions between characters is best evidenced in this character. In a believable portrayal of male ego and teenage testosterone, Le Mar strikes numerous poses as OCD sufferer McKenzie profiles in the mirror. But he is not vain; he is looking for his self. Reflecting on his poor choices, he speaks at a young offenders institute and inspires, until his best friend’s ghost (in Jamaican culture – Duppy) revisits him. As she hits the deck, Le Mar’s commitment in this scene is admirable, with her wig cap on display and her jeans falling down.

But she is soon made over in the church dressing room as Samantha Hide, a jaded actress holding onto the past. Without the necessities for an emergency situation, Hide clutches her 1980s review close to her bosom and occupies the toilets. She ransacks her bag looking in vain for what she has already lost. This character finds Le Mar reciting Shakespeare and you are reminded of her kaleidoscope of talent as an actress.

There were some heavy steps for Le Mar to take

But in addition to acting, former Social Worker Le Mar is a married mother of three (including upcoming comedian and radio DJ Travis Jay), director, presenter, producer, writer, stand-up comedienne of 25 years (she was the first Black British performer to appear at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre and had the first ever sell out show by a female black comedian in London’s West End), and radio personality. The latter no doubt inspired the exclusive interview with Charmaine Lawrence, celebrated lifestyle guru, spiritual sister and author of the book Sole to Heel, on The Brenda Emmanus show. As much as Lawrence rambles, the book, which she plugs endlessly, is appealing if only for the element of parody.

The ‘studio audience’ has one final treat as Falushilah Falashilay returns to play out the Brenda Emmanus Show. Now this is where I prayed that my leopard print pumps would not become the story. God heard me but others nearby weren’t so lucky as shoes were singled out to reveal secrets about their owners.

In this theatrical tour de force presented by her company Straight to the Audience Productions, Le Mar maintains her pace and poise as she walks and runs the miles of six different but interconnected lives. Though only a dance and musical snippet signals a change of character between sketches, from heels to trainers, each shoe fits. Her co-devisor and Director Femi Elufowoju Jnr ensures that her footwear is not worn down. Le Mar as cordwainer ensured that the script was free from cobblers.

In My Shoes premieres at The Soho Theatre from 14 October running until 5 November. Call the Box Office on 020 7478 0100. After touring the UK, In My Shoes will transfer to the international stage including New York, LA and Atlanta, in 2012-2013. Like a female Tyler Perry in her proactive nature, fans can also look out for Le Mar’s pilot sitcom The Ryan Sisters starring Michelle Gayle, Kellie Bryan, Josie D’arby, Eddie Nestor, alongside Le Mar, as well as her forthcoming Internet streaming concepts The Living Room and Angie’s Round The Table. For more information about Angie Le Mar visit her website.

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A Clockwork Orange

 

A Clockwork Orange

Ashley Hunter as Alex photography by Robert Day

On the eve of its 50th anniversary, a new adaptation of the  classic A Clockwork Orange is on at Stratford Theatre Royal. Anthony Burgess’ cult novel becomes  a musical thanks to New Yorkers Ed DuRanté (words) and Fred Carl (music), and the UK’s Dawn Reid, Associate Director of the Theatre Royal Stratford East, directing.

inmates in A Clockwork Orange

Ashley Hunter & Kirris Riviere photography by Robert Day

Focusing on the last chapter of Burgess’ novel, which was omitted from the first American editions of the novel, does not appear in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film, and deals with redemption and hope, the musical is sure to put a new spin on an iconic story.

A Clockwork Orange runs from Monday 5 September – Saturday 1 October.

Tickets: £20 / £15 and £10 concessions (Tues – Thursday until 22 Sept); £22 / £17 concessions (Fri and Sat eves & last week of run); Evening performances are at 7.30pm, matinees are 2.30pm, there will be Saturday matinees on 24 September and 1 October.

Box office 020 8534 0310  www.stratfordeast.com
BSL interpreted                Tuesday 27 September 7.30pm
Captioned                         Friday 30 September 7.30pm
Audio-described               Saturday 1 October 2.30pm
Pay what you want Saturday 17 September 2.30pm. Available to Newham residents who have never been to see a show at Theatre Royal Stratford East before. Call 020 8534 0310 and quote Pay what you want when booking – tickets must be booked in advance and proof of residence must be shown on collection of tickets.

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The UK Corner theatre review: Fixer @ Oval House

Lydia Adetunji’s political play Fixer starts slowly. With a weighty storyline, Adetunji must get the pace just right. She manages this feat with impressive direction by Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe. In a simple set with only airline passenger seats and a crate of Guinness, they transport the audience to northern Nigeria.

The minimalism is enhanced by the energy embodied in sound and lighting effects, which frame each scene. Scenes are further charged with kinetic energy as the dynamic cast run, walk and kneel around the periphery of the stage. The atmosphere is electric and, electrocuted; the audience remains transfixed for the duration of the play.

Fixer cast

The cast of Fixer

Fixer appeals in every direction. It references left wing environmentalism and right wing economics. Centering on geopolitics and the media frenzy around an attack on a new oil pipeline, the play highlights the spin put on militancy.

In the struggle for the inside scoop, fixer Chuks (Richard Pepple) puts his life at risk as go-between for foreign correspondents and local groups. The role is financially lucrative but dangerous. In a world where corruption and bribery is rife, Chuks takes his chance to make a better life for himself and his sick daughter.

Fixer

L to R: Damola Adelaja as Laurence, Alex Barclay as Dave and Richard Pepple as Chucks

As a former journalist, Adetunji’s drama insightfully questions journalistic integrity and the price of human life amid ego driven career climbing. While the journalists use their contacts, capital and cultural heritage to advance, locals must rely on their wits.

With so many journalists as part of cast and crew, Fixer provides the perfect mouthpiece to frankly explore the ongoing issues of Nigerian activism and petroleum politics. This is an important play on important issues.

Fixer runs Tuesdays – Sundays at 7.45pm, until 10 July. Tickets are £14.00/£7.00 concessions. For more on Fixer, visit Oval House Theatre’s website.

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