“Someone should give this show a WEST END run”
The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks
21st Sep 2011
The Demon Barbers deliver more than you expect. Their Roadshow takes exciting English traditional music all over the country, but with exciting English traditional dance, too – percussive clog. acrobatic rapper, elegant long-sword and leaping morris. The Lock In develops this, integrating these traditions with contemporary vernacular dance – hip-hop, popping and krump. It is spectacular, witty arid immensely enjoyable.
Welcome to ‘The Fighting Cocks’. The hip-hop crew arrive, busting low, caps on sideways. One finds a pewter tankard, gives it a rub, and – as you might expect – there’s a mysterious apparition the appearance of, well, the spirits of traditional dance, I suppose – in a processional reminiscent of the ancient Abbots Bromley Horn dance. There follows a series of choreographic clashes, hip-hoppers striving to outdo cloggers, amazingly fast and precise rappers (dancers not MCs) and sword-dancers.
There are marvellous dramatic touches; the edgy bouncer confronts a leery drinker sparking an outburst of morris dancing hostile as any Haka. Rapper dancing features a ‘Betty’, a comic character in drag, the role assayed here by the Barbers’ bearded drummer, Ben Griffith, who becomes Jasmine, the pub’s landlady. Pool cues take the place of the long-swords in an astonishing display of disciplined dexterity.
Gradually the hip-hop and traditional dancer come together; beatboxing melds with fiddle and melodeon in the creation of music and dance that is contemporary and traditional, ancient and modern – and original. Damien Barber and Bobak Walker’s The Lock In is more exciting musically and choreographically than Riverdance or Stomp; it’s more ambitious, culturally more important. Someone should give this show a WEST END run.