“In another dance universe, folk and hip-hop unite to stunning effect”
The Brooke Theatre. Chatham
19th Nov 2012
4 out of 5 stars
It’s good, too, to see England’s oldest street-dance forms not just alive and kicking, but devolving. Morris men with their flowers and bells aren’t exactly up there with breakdancers as models of cool. But an ambitious new touring show, The Lock In, might just change that.
The inspiration comes from Damien Barber, frontman of the award-winning folk band The Demon Barbers, who supply the floor-shaking live music that alone justifies the price of the ticket. The show opens with the wail of police sirens as three youths – a hip-hop crew in fact – burst into a seemingly deserted pub to escape the law. After strutting their skills-set, they discover they are not alone. The pub’s regular clientele includes a trio of female Lancashire cloggers, a longsword and rapper-sword team (not that kind of rapper) and a set of Cotswold Morris men.
At first wary of each other, a keen competitiveness takes hold, aggressive, then increasingly friendly, as each faction finds points to admire in the other. Before long they’re sharing and swapping techniques, spurred on by the fiery, beat-driven music, and the plosive blandishments of beatboxer Grace Savage. You’ll rub your eyes in disbelief, but stripped of their silly outfits, even the kerchief-waving Morris dances manage to look tough and manly. The Lock In makes for a rousing night out.