Tones: A Hip-Hop Opera

Uplifting and bold, Tones is one-man’s lyrical life story growing up in the ends, exploring black identity in a UK culture obsessed with class and race.

One-man’s lyrical life story growing up in the ends

Actor, writer and so-called rapaturg Gerel Falconer achieves no mean feat, spitting the lyrics of his life story for a solid hour, pausing only for the odd beat change. Falconer’s bars blend hip-hop, grime and drill to allow for introspection without being sentimental, using humour to reel us in and tragedy to upend our expectations.

The room is stifling hot and Falconer is dressed as Jerome in a heavy black hoodie with golden Phantom-style mask to hide half his face. Nevertheless, he raps unfazed, injecting energy and passion into his storytelling, with impressive comic timing and cadence throughout.

Lyricism bounces around the room as Jerome navigates his childhood path to self-discovery. We hang on every word as he tells of growing up in Halston, Hackney with his wealthy white friends and commanding Uncle who serves as his mentor. We see our character question the stereotypes put upon himself and his friends and family, feeling shame in his attempts to assimilate and confusion at being ‘too white’ for his black friends and ‘too black’ for everyone else.

Though Tones is a play about one man’s struggle, it stands for the bigger problem of social disenfranchisement for black British youth, a problem which Falconer and London’s Wound Up Theatre highlight through their work.

Wound Up Theatre has another play at the Fringe, The Death of Molly Miller, which similarly takes on challenging subject matter through comedic theatre.

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Reviews by Laura Tucker

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★★★★
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Underbelly, Cowgate

Declan

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Death of Molly Miller

★★★★

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

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

What if you're not Black enough for the ends, but too Black for the rest of the world? Jerome, aka The Professor, is a man in battle with his identity, on a journey through the depths of Black-British culture, class, and belonging. Tones combines the gritty underground sounds of hip hop, grime, drill and the melodrama of opera, into a piece of gig theatre like no other. Join The Professor as he navigates the treacherous path to self-discovery. A new show from the company behind Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy and It'll be Alt-Right on the Night.

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