And Now For The Broadsword Rapper;Dude!

The Lock In
The Demon Barbers
Walker Theatre
13/11/12

There is quite a debate to be had about fusion yet before its allowed to stampede its way through everything once held sacred. Currently we see fusion in food, in fashion, in art and now in The Demon Barbers theatre show The Lock In.

The debate might go something like; “can fusion dilute or strengthen each art form involved?” It is a worthy debate but the subject matter would prove too subjective to ever be answered. The fusion that I refer to in this review is the fusion of Traditional English Folk Music, Morris Dancing, Beat Box and Street Dance. You now have the picture.

So you are locked into this pub, initially one gets the idea that it’s an empty derelict bar. Three young street ragamuffins fall onto the stage under the exciting noise of a police chase. They are the street dancing trio. Fortunately for our tearaway scallies there’s a band in the corner of the bar that can play their stuff. On finding the magic tankard and rubbing it something like the green man and all his strange helpers enter the scene and the whole thing becomes a stand off between street dance and traditional dance.

Enter the living drum machine, Grace Savage. With the unique talent of making rhythmic drum sounds she then becomes the backing track for anything the street dancers want to dance to. She even uses her strange ability to make drum sounds alongside of the traditional side of the music. It works, there’s no denying that.

So the fusion begins. Readers of this reviewer may already be alerted to the fact that street art, language and dance leaves me fairly non plussed. I find it slightly urban, aggressive, dodgy and an illustrative guide to the seedier side of city life. Sadly, connected to gangland shootings, drugs and alcohol abuse and so on, whenever we are exposed to scenes in films, about issues like that, we always eventually get subjected to something street. It brings to mind its depressing birthplaces in the ghettos of New York and Brooklyn, Chicago and Detroit.

My own personal beliefs notwithstanding It is still a tough one to review because it offered something for everyone, if you like clog dancing there was ample, if you like Morris Dancing again there was plenty and it was the same with street and the same with the superb and undeniably amazing musicianship of the band and the Beat Boxer. Something for everyone? Yes.  Everything for everyone? Maybe not.

As the several strands of the narrative were interacting the stage looked cluttered with too much going on. One wit in the bar at half time described it as watching a washing machine. There were people spinning around on their heads and cloggers bashing about, then there were Morris dancers leaping around and rapper dancers a spinning with their double handled swords. All of that was happening whilst a man with a hat of horns watched weirdly from the bar. It was surreal and very strange but highly compulsive for the audience who lapped it up.

From comments like amazing, wonderful and beautiful, the vibe from the theatre bar was this was an absolute triumph.

This show pushes boundaries it also pushes Damien Barber towards the front of the traditional music scene today. It lights him as creative, intelligent and highly talented. If anything is going to endure as purists hope the English music scene will: it’s going to take champions like Damien to keep the game alive. It will take fusion it will take daring shows and it will take real talent which this lot have in spades.

This is a four star review.

Owen Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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