Rapsody

In an inner-city hostel, Jams is trying to record a rap video. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, as he has to deal with Elz, Toni and Jaime. It's a fantastic start to a fantastic show. All of its characters feel thoroughly real and understandably flawed. Toni is struggling with addiction, Elz and Jams want to become professional rappers, and Jaime just wants to go to church. Rapsody exposes the reality of life for underprivileged young people, and shows the impact of small acts of kindness between them. This is all facilitated through rap.

A clever exploration of the importance of rap to inner city communities in dealing with injustice and trauma

The main draw of this production is its integration of rap music written for the show. This is completed flawlessly, and by far provides the best moments in the play, creating connections between its characters. The raps are well-written, creative and act as a form of expression for its characters where nothing else feels possible. They rap about systemic injustices, personal trauma, and for some, self-indulgence. My favourite would have to be Jaime’s rap about church corruption, which has the best emotional development. In these raps, each of the four actors truly shines, and I wish this confidence and energy in performance could be carried through for Toni and Jaime to other parts of the production. Regardless, Jaime’s description of addiction is performed brilliantly.

Jams and Elz are the best written characters outside of the raps, and their characterisation is fantastic. Elz’s bravado is perfectly captured by his physicality and voicing, and he provides the majority of the humour through his inadequacy and eccentric mannerisms. It would be nice to see more variation and vulnerability from him, however. Jams equally has a macho and cheeky exterior, though his moments of tenderness really endear us to him.

The only problem with the show is its ending. It came so unexpectedly, at a time of high tension and left us questioning what the consequences would be and the fates of these characters we have grown so attached to. Audience members were unsure about when to clap until one of the cast members said “thank you”. The relationships between these characters are so interesting and well formed, and I for one wanted the play to continue for just another ten minutes.

This is a must-see not solely for fans of rap. The music is powerful, topical and feels so important in the story. This show has so much potential and I, for one, cannot wait to see how it develops.

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Reviews by Ben Johanson

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Join Elz, Jams, Toni and Jaime, living in a hostel and battling impossible odds, as they confront the realities of our class system through live rap, trap and drill. As the dynamics of the hostel shift, all four struggle to get by, rapping the things they can't bring themselves to say. The voice of the voiceless speaks in rhyme. Rapsody is a raw look at inner-city life in Britain today. Recipients of the Pleasance Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve. Previous praise: 'Electrifying' **** (@TheatreReviewsUK). 'An intense energy... compelling to watch' **** (LoveLondonLoveCulture.com).

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