Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Locked In" - October 2008

We'd enjoyed playwright Fin Kennedy's work with Mulberry School for Girls at the Edinburgh Fringe, so when we saw that Half Moon were touring widely in Scotland with "Locked In" we had to book up. Even though the tagline of "a hip hop drama" might have made us more reluctant if we hadn't been familiar with Fin's other work.

Set almost entirely in their pirate radio station 'studio' on top of a tower block friends, DJ Riqi (Lee Hardy) and MC Blaze (Ashley J) broadcast to the nation (well, East London anyway). Their different backgrounds, cultures and religions initially seem to cause few problems to them, but we become aware of increasing pressures from outside as their own 'clicks' frown upon it. The addition of Zahida (Ambur Khan) to the mix is the catalyst that causes the cracks to surface.

By delivering a lot of the play in hip hop rhymes we learn a lot about all three characters very quickly and revealing as they verbally spar. Although it's not a music style that I particularly like, it's so effectively used to tell the story you find yourself caught up in it. It certainly doesn't prevent the story from being accessible, even to those who are perhaps a little older than it's main target audience. Close your eyes, take away the back beat and have the characters speak in Elizabethan English instead and you wouldn't bat an eyelid.

All three actors bring energy to their roles; delivering the sometimes complex lyrics/lines with both humour and attitude accompanied by an infectious soundscape. Half Moon have produced a very technically polished play, with everything hitting the mark. Even to replacing the traditional paper programme with a CD that includes the music that was the back beat to the performances.

An effectively told simple tale of the pressures that surround young people, especially in the inner cities. Highly topical given a summer news cycle that's been dominated with stories of gun and knife crime - particularly in London. Unfortunately the audience at Cumbernauld Theatre was dissapointingly small on a very wet and wild Saturday night, but it was certainly well received by those who had ventured out. It does deserve a larger audience, and hopefully will receive it as it continues it tour.

A highly enjoyable evening which rounded off a successful week of theatre-going.

"Locked In" continues its tour in Scotland - visiting Paisley, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling and Galloway before returning to England.

Photo by Patrick Baldwin. Used with permission.