Into The Hoods: Remixed – review
Peacock Theatre

Published: Sunday, November 1, 2015 9:20 AM | Review by: Mike Scott-Harding | Afridiziak Star Rating:
Into TheHoods Remixed Duwane Taylor photo by Hugo Glendinning Into TheHoods Remixed Duwane Taylor photo by Hugo Glendinning

All the performers deserve credit for their skill and energy. However, I especially enjoyed Natasha Gooden (‘Lil Red’) for her fabulous all-round dancing abilities, Corey Culverwell (‘Jaxx’) for his exciting tricks and ‘freezes’, and Daryl Baker (‘Prince’) for his comic performance.

It’s almost as informative viewing the audience for this ‘remixed’ version of the hit 2006 stage-show, as it is watching the stage. Children of various ages – chaperoned by mothers, fathers, and guardians alike – populate the theatre and talk excitedly amongst themselves about... dance!


This is the overwhelming legacy of – not only the original ‘Into the Hoods’ show (see listing) – but of UK dance troops like ‘Diversity’ or ‘Flawless’, and TV shows such as ‘So You Think You Can Dance’; to give young would-be practitioners, and their parents, the information that ‘dance’ can be artistically relevant, socially relatable, and – most importantly – professionally attainable.


The show cleverly melds the modern mythology (and myths) of contemporary urban living with age-old fairy-tales that we – and ‘our children’ – have grown up with.


In the beginning, we see two ‘green’ school-kids (‘Hansel and Gretel’) losing themselves in ‘the hood’ and mixing with the inhabitants of Beanstalk Towers. Among them are ‘Spinderella’, ‘Prince’, ‘Rap on Zel’, ‘Giant’, ‘Jaxx’, ‘Lil Red’, ‘Wolf’, Fairy G’, and ‘The Landlord’.


Using a soundtrack of classic and contemporary soul and r&b songs, practical sets, superb lighting and video-projection, and – of course – a group of great live dancers, this production certainly doesn’t skimp on spectacle.


Unfortunately, there is a dearth of dramatic tension, especially before the interval (as the characters are introduced). Having said that, the second-half feels much better, in terms of both excitement and plot-momentum, as the story references – albeit broadly - certain harsh realities of modern, urban life (e.g.; poverty, landlord profiteering, homelessness, and low-level drug dealing) without subverting the ‘child-friendly’ tone.


All the dialogue is pre-recorded. Oftentimes, the performers don’t ‘mime along’ with their character’s voices; nor do they – in the main - ‘lip-synch’ to the songs.


Bearing in mind the superb choreography on display – and the strong production values – doing so would surely add to the show (especially as the lack of any ‘live vocal’ performances tend to flatten the emotion).


I would recommend this show for anyone with young children or teenagers. There is enough expertise and excitement on display to enthrall a young audience and – perhaps – inspire them to create, and explore, their own mythologies through dance.

So, what – you may ask – do the adults get out of it? Well, aside from ‘the moves’, it’s also the grooves – and our recognition of them – that sell these shows. To this end, the soundtrack includes music from a surprising variety of artists from different eras – including James Brown, Cameo, Shalamar, John Legend, Missy Elliott, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Nat King Cole(!) Like many modern dance shows, the excerpts of music we’re presented with, come in small, bite-sized pieces; it’s to the production’s credit that these ‘snippets’ are, generally speaking, not so short that we - the audience - start feeling nauseous (a common occurrence when watching a hip-hop show). This allows the dancers room to showcase their individual skills, as well as some tight and inventive ensemble choreography.


Some of the highlights include a well-staged visit to ‘Grandma’s ‘rest home’, an entertaining – if slightly repetitive – ‘slo-mo’ fight scene, a well-realised ‘lindy-hop’ sequence, and – near the end – two choreographic set-pieces which delved into slightly ‘darker’ territory.


All the performers deserve credit for their skill and energy. However, I especially enjoyed Natasha Gooden (‘Lil Red’) for her fabulous all-round dancing abilities, Corey Culverwell (‘Jaxx’) for his exciting tricks and ‘freezes’, and Daryl Baker (‘Prince’) for his comic performance.


I would recommend this show for anyone with young children or teenagers.


There is enough expertise and excitement on display to enthrall a young audience and – perhaps – inspire them to create, and explore, their own mythologies through dance.


And isn’t that what much of the arts is about?



Info: Into the Hoods: Remixed is at the Peacock Theatre until November 14, 2015 | Book tickets | See listing




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