Ever find yourself singing along to music on the radio and then realising the lyrics are kind of messed up? Do you know the words to all of Eminem’s songs but some bits you rap just a little quieter than the rest? Then Love Letters to Rappers by The Ugly Girls Club is for you. Taking classic rap tracks and turning them into funny and powerful anthems for everyone.
Love Letters to Rappers is everything Fringe theatre should be and more
Accompanied by a choir dressed in robes that are visually somewhere in between A Handmaid’s Tale and a costume of a vagina, our teacher (Harriet Lansdown) bounces onto the stage with boundless enthusiasm and supreme confidence. Explaining how troublesome some artists are, she flies through hilarious diagrams and jokes that poke fun at society, themselves and just about everything. The more eagle-eyed audience member may notice after half an hour or so that Lansdown is totally naked. Well, except for some trainers and a thinking cap. This is, of course, part of the symbology of the show. It is about consent, empowerment and the way women’s bodies are depicted.
Some may think that this show may be laden with heavy handed imagery and serious monologues. It is not. It is an absolute celebration of women, comedy and music. The audience cracked up for every punchline and cheered every song. The Ugly Girls Club manage to capture lightning in a bottle by not only conveying a serious and inspiring message but doing so with such joy and hilarity that I basically skipped home still chuckling.
Accompanying the jokes and diagrams is the music. Songs from artists such as Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West have been appropriated and transformed into feminist anthems. Gold Digger is flipped around to the perspective of the woman and Beyoncé’s Run the World (Girls) becomes the more honest 'Who runs the world? well... men.' While the lyrics are often a mixture of empowering and amusing, special mention must go the vocal quality of the performances. While the message works regardless, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the cast and choir are exceptional singers and dancers. They hit the high notes with aplomb and bust some ridiculous moves.
Hilarious, subversive and bold, Love Letters to Rappers is everything Fringe theatre should be and more. This is a performance that a veteran company would be proud of, let alone a debut production. It’s the kind of show you want to invite your friends to. It’s the kind of show that stays in your mind afterwards. It was damn funny and a pleasure to watch.