Lyric Hammersmith. On until 16 February.
A crowded London street and two young men catch each other’s eye, hook up and fall in love. What follows is the interweaving of their friends and families and personal histories told through a play with songs (written by Matt Jones and Kele Okereke from Bloc Party) and dance.
This is a modern inter-racial gay love story that tackles the issues of families, secrets, lies and trust within a relationship. Told with a freshness and honesty that had me captivated, even though I thought I knew where the story was heading.
Populated with sucker punch songs, some that could easily be stand alone singles – ‘Not the Drugs Talking’ ‘The Sea Between Us’, ‘To Family’, ‘5 Years’, ‘The Lies We Tell’ – which add emotional depth and richness to the characters and scenes. Our lead lovers Obi ( Tyrone Huntley who I last saw as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar) and Alex (Billy Cullum) turn in some terrific performances. But other characters, such as the mothers (Rakie Ayola as Grace and Johanne Murdock as Diane) get some touching moments. Even the ‘bad’ best friend Damian gets to open up his heart in ‘More Than You Know’ with a beautiful performance by Arun Blair-Mangat. (Album details at the end of this post.)
If all this wasn’t enough, you get something truly visually stunning in the choreography by director Robby Graham. You start to get a sense of the power this can bring in an early scene in a nightclub (usually something that falls flat and unbelievable in other plays), but it is at moments of drama such as the family dinner where we get balletic repetitive movements that hint at how each of the characters are themselves stuck in their actions and their ways of seeing the world, that had me doing emotional cartwheels of joy inside.
Running until 16 Feb you need to stop what you’re doing, grab life with both hands and get to see this joyous feast of life, love, music and dance!
January 19 (Stalls L5-6)
The album Leave to Remain is now available on iTunes