Four Stars out of Five Stars
Firstly, I think a warning is in order for anyone who has, like me, felt that the ideals and beliefs of feminism (while I’m not arguing with them) have seemed to creep their way into every article and television program they come across. I’m warning you that this review won’t be any different. Some Like It Hip Hop is a musical theatre production by the acclaimed ZooNation who, through the medium of dance and song, give us primarily an insight into misogyny in the work place. Plaques with the words ‘No Women’ and ‘Men Wanted For Work’ frame the set on which a story of unjust banishment, comic cross dressing and a final female triumph play out so that a city once coated in darkness, comes to see the light through the power of education.
Kate Prince, the director and choreographer, clearly wants to showcase her belief that inequality between men and women is a result of lack of education and she does so while still making her show a compelling, artistic, often comic and at one point very touching performance. However, it seemed that while watching the play, the very real problems of gender hierarchies took a back seat to the display of breakdancing, acrobatics and beat boxing (to name but a few talents displayed). This is not a criticism; Some Like It Hip Hop is clearly a performance for all the family and let’s face it, dance, music and comedy are preferable to social commentary on a Saturday evening.
The production exemplifies how dance has as much scope to express feeling and narrative as speech does. Moreover, there is less scope for bad acting which can often affects performances with large casts and a cheesy plot. ZooNation is a company not of actors but of dancers whose central focus is to create ‘pieces of full length narrative’ through hip hop dance theatre. Hence the dreaded fear of ‘over-acting’ simply does not apply. In fact the more expressive the dancers were, the more they drew in the audience. Particularly engrossing was the final battle scene between the governor and his cronies, who have shut out women, books and the sun from their city and their opposers who are fighting to bring it all back. A dance off ensues with every character popping, locking and flipping from one end of the stage to the other.
Every move is accompanied by the smoky tones of two stunning singers with their own takes on classic songs such as ‘This Is A Man’s World’, helping to make the show as captivating musically as it was visually. Having spent most of the week in the library and feeling slightly gloomy as a result, a bit of musical dance theatre was just what I needed on a Saturday Night! I would encourage anyone who feels likewise at the end of a difficult week to seek a similar solace.
Some Like It Hip Hop ran at the Lowry Theatre from the 18th to 20th October
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