Friday, 25 October 2019

REVIEW: Some Like it Hip Hop at the Peacock Theatre


It is quite exhilarating when you go to a dance show and it ends like a rock concert! The atmosphere at Some Like it Hip Hop by the dance theatre company ZooNation is high-energy, with the audience bouncing in their seats, audibly reacting and ending up on their feet for the grand finale.

This show tells the story of a closed city whose governor (Christian Alozie) has blocked out the sun and created a place where books are banned and women are kept subservient to men. The only way for Jo-Jo (Lizzie Gough, also Assistant choreographer and Dance Captain) and Kerri (Saskia Davis) to live in the city and to attempt to prove their worth is to dress up as men. 

There are Shakespearian elements to the story, with a narrator accompanying the audience through rhyme, and the themes of cross-dressing and unrequited love (both between men and women and within families). I was often reminded of “As You Like It”.

Dark themes such as toxic masculinity and dictatorship are explored, but also the power of working in a group, female friendship and perseverance in the face of obstacles. In the opening, we meet a group of men, each dangerously showing off their “toughness”, particularly the governor whose past has motivated him to shut out any emotion. He is tall and menacing, which is amplified by the particular lighting on him, which magnifies his shadow on the back wall, likening him to a giant bear. Johanna Town’s lighting design is ingenious and sophisticated.

I’m not sure I quite followed why he decided to shun women to this extent, but the broken heart works in mysterious ways.

One man, a newcomer, played by the Olivier Award-winning Tommy Franzen, loves to read in secret, and is led by positivity and love rather than comparison to his male companions. Franzen is an incredibly agile dancer, and I enjoyed his bounciness and ease on stage.

Next to this masculinity, the female characters are dressed in colours and often dance together, emphasising the power a group can have, and the solidarity between them. Lizzie Gough and Saskia Davis are so fun together, and the female ensemble is a joy to watch.

I really enjoyed the individuality of each body and dancer. Instead of hip hop following just one right way, everybody adopts the movements in their own way, informed by their character. Aaron Nuttall as the “idiot” moves very differently from Saskia Davis, and it makes the show that much more interesting. In addition, the singers and guitarist add another level to the evening. The mysterious “Midnight by Torchlight” and humorous “If I could be with you” are visually and musically gorgeous. 

This is a fun night for the whole family, with a very talented ensemble reminding us of the joy of dance, and the beauty of unique bodies all flowing together.

Review by Sophie Tergeist

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: O24 | Price of Ticket: £35
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