CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: The Canary and the Crow, at Arcola Theatre

31 January, 2020 — By Caroline Haastrup-Baptiste

BEFORE I had the chance to take my seat in this intimate space, I was greeted with a high-energy, entertaining call and response from hip hop battle rapper Nigel Taylor, aka Prez 96 (grandson of Ebo Taylor, an influential Ghanaian Afro beat musician from the 1950s).

Welcome to gig theatre. A relatively new genre where narrative and music collide to exhilarating effect.

Daniel Ward is the writer and star of this heartfelt, semi-autobiographical play about a black, working-class child who earns a scholarship to an elite grammar school and ends up training as an actor.

We follow him on his journey as he encounters stifling racism in his new environment, and discovers that his old life no longer offers him room for growth.

The other members of the excellent four-strong cast, who play a range of characters, are Rachel Barnes on keyboard/cello and Laurie Jamieson on keyboard/cello.

They combine grime, hip hop and classical music in this fascinating story of a young person’s search for identity and a sense of belonging.

The Canary and the Crow is produced by the Hull-based company, Middle Child, whose aim is to draw in audience members who are more usually to be found at gigs, comedy, festivals and football matches.

This anarchic production will prove a pleasant surprise for those people who think they don’t like political theatre.

It’s exuberantly performed, light-hearted and poignant in equal measure. It’s also a spot-on exploration of today’s zero-hours contract society. Gig theatre might just be the perfect way to encourage younger, more diverse audiences to try something new.

Thought-provoking, funny, relevant but never preachy.

Until February 8
020 7503 1646

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