Yesterday evening I skirted around the exercise buddies on the West Yorkshire Playhouse steps to visit the Courtyard Theatre for Lyrikal Fearta.
The first performance of the evening was from Guinness World Record Breaking beatboxer Testament (Andy Brookes). Testament is the chosen local hip hop artist and the quality of his work showed that it wasn’t just a token gesture.
Blending his love of British hip hop with the poetry of William Blake, Testament was able to create bricolage that gave an insight into his childhood. The combination of storytelling, beatboxing and performance kept the audience engaged throughout and drew more than a couple of laughs.
The second piece, Broken Lineage, a newly commissioned collaborative piece with Ivan Blackstock (BirdGang Dance Company) explores the broken lineage between the old skool and new skool hip hop generations. This piece resonated with me more than any other as it reminded me of my conversation with Tony Green and our discussions regarding the tensions between the generations of hip hop fans.
The piece highlights Jonzi’s wit alongside the explicit commentary for an evolving social issue. Rebellion and the joining together are two of the underlying themes within hip hop and the performance was able to capture the tension routed within the culture.
The finale, The Letter, explores the responses to Jonzi being offered an MBE. He uses choreography to present this subject through a selection of characters and their response to his news. The characters personalities shine through via the minimalist use of props and Jonzi’s performance.
The concept and the execution are entertaining and relevant through the consideration of the tribulations presented – feeling trapped between accepting a wider culture that you’re not altogether accepting of – yet the performance felt a little self indulgent. This is my only criticism of the piece and if you are interested in how music genres can transcend creative boundaries, this collection of performances is certainly worth seeing.
Lyrikal Fearta is performed again at the West Yorkshire Playhouse at 7.45pm this evening (Wednesday 13th November)