First developed with the support of the Albany Theatre's Hatched new writing programme, We Raise Our Hands In the Sanctuary tells a story of struggle with inclusion, employment and self-establishment, where friendship oscillates between convinced brotherhood and crude opportunism. Part drama and part cabaret, it witnesses the raise to fame of DJ Michael (Jahvel Hall), inseparable from his mate and future business partner Joseph (Oseloka Obi), a trainee stage electrician. Employed by club promoter Paul (Dean Graham) and lead (or mislead) by the extravagant drag performer Brandi (Carl Mullaney), the two friends are called throughout the 1980's to face the ups and downs of the entertainment industry and their relationship won't remain unscathed.
As a complement to the numbers of the divine Brandi, Jordan Ajadi and Shawn Willis deserve a special mention for their exquisite dance sketches. Thanks to Mina Aidoos's smooth choreography, they surpass any rhetoric and show on stage all the sensual beauty of two young bodies that silently manifest mutual love. This must be the most accomplished aspect of We Raise Our Hands In the Sanctuary and I couldn't get enough of watching the two performers, whether together or in solo routines.
The set, designed by Ingrid Hu, is an interesting collection of elementary shapes and
We Raise Our Hands In the Sanctuary is ultimately a tribute to the 1980's clubbing scene and an exploration of sexuality, masculinity and race. Despite requiring some further polishing, it has all the attributes of an original and ground-breaking piece of theatre, thanks to the unmissable contribution of quality disco music and excellent physical performance.
Review by Marianna Meloni