I you are looking for a bombastically visual hip hop dance show, and you don’t mind a nonsensical and cliché plot, this is the show for you.
Ostentatious, colourful and athletically performed.
In a futuristic dystopia – looking like a vertical oil rig crossed with a shanty town, on the projection, and looking like a concrete jungle according to the set – two gangs, the Angels and the Zombies battle, for unclear reasons, then join together members mixing forming the Brothers, causing a love triangle plot to form. The show opens with a slow burn introduction where a graffiti artist paints onto the projection screens that I wish was better lit so we could see the dancing of the graffiti artist a little clearer. Moving into a comedy chase scene that had a video game vibe that lightened the mood before the gang violence and tragic love story started. The performances were energetic and absorbing. The choreography, whilst mostly hip hop, utilises a mix of styles, including popping, break dance, ballet, contemporary, depending on the piece, and the specialism of the performers. This means that the group struggled to achieve real unison but resulted in some excellent smaller group pieces. The trio of women worked very well together particularly, their sad dance during the fighting between the boys. However, the larger group pieces were still very impressive, weaving gesture work with acrobatics, jumping on and off from the set.
The performance has lots of visually stunning projection that teeters into overwhelming at points, when I just wanted to watch the dancers, I took to ignoring the side bars, only to realise I’d missed some information, like the names of the Zombies, then when I was scrambling for that, I’d miss some of the lovely choreography onstage. The set is innovative, versatile and well designed and added a lovely layer of levels to the production. It is a shame about the long pauses in action as it is moved around. Costume was fun and worked really well at differentiating the dancers’ allegiances, and added to the personality of the women. The lighting was a on the kaleidoscopic side, using lots of colour following the scheme of the show, although I did get a bit bored of the: ‘it’s pink wash because the women are dancing’, look. The accompaniment rarely strays from hip-hop & R&B, with the occasional bit of dubstep thrown in.
I found it very strange that everyone else in the show was names apart from the Angels, the supposed good guys. The Zombies and the women were all names on the screens, but I had nothing to grasp for the Angels. It they were named on the screen I must have missed it, and I suspect that is entirely possible. The characterisation of the men was severely lacking, the women each had a personality the audience could grasp but the boys were all run of the mill gangster types or brooding leaders turning them into dull background characters. The plot is entirely unexplained, there is the one guy not in a gang who runs around occasionally being a mediator, who may or may not be the same guy who was the graffiti artist. Why is there a boxing match between the gangs in the first place? Does the leader have some mystical powers as he freezes a fight and changes the outcome by manipulating the frozen figures? There is lots of heavily implied violence to the three women onstage, why do they stay?
It’s ostentatious, colourful and athletically performed dance piece that is a slice of cheesy fun.