The Five and the Prophecy of Prana - review

Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 5:21 PM | Review by: Lloyd Lewis-Hayter |
The Five & the Prophecy of Prana by Boy Blue Entertainment The Five & the Prophecy of Prana by Boy Blue Entertainment

This show has been a long time coming. Since beginning with a simple drawing of a martial arts character that would later become one of the main characters by artistic director Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, Boy Blue Entertainment has been on an impressive journey to get to tonight.

If you aren’t familiar with the multi award-winning power house of a dance company that is Boy Blue Entertainment, one of the many impressive ingredients you should be aware of is that co-founder and co-artistic director Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante has produced hit tracks for the likes of Shola Ama, Kano and Delilah to name a few. Possessing this unique partnership of both a musical mastermind and top choreographer in the form of Kenrick has accelerated Boy Blue Entertainment ahead of their peers and competitors in hip hop dance theatre.

Becoming associate artists at the Barbican in 2009, ‘The Five & the Prophecy of Prana’ was one of the early ideas, which came from meetings to develop new productions. In 2011 Monks from the Shaolin Temple Warrior School travelled to the UK where Boy Blue had the rare opportunity of being coached and educated on Shaolin Kung Fu by the monks themselves. These workshops produced the backbone of many key factors in the show.

Following this insight in to the Japanese culture, which is imperative to the production, Kenrick and Mikey made a trip to Japan where they met with highly respected manga artist Akio Tanaka. Being one of the most famous manga artists, they were elated when they received a response after reaching out to Akio online. Discussing what they wanted to achieve with Akio in person resulted in the artist contributing drawings of how he imagined the main characters in the piece.

Having taken no shortcuts in putting the show together, the development of the piece had to be put on hold last year when Kenrick and Mikey were called on to choreograph a huge section of the Olympic opening ceremony.

As the show begins we see familiar manga plots brought together, with UK hip hop culture thrown in to the mix in the form of The Five. The Five consists of five young out of hand Londoners who about to be sent to jail when Japanese warrior Wang Tang offers to take them under his wing.

Having witnessed two intense hours of hip-hop dance theatre taken to a whole new scale, we cannot wait to see what the next installment holds.

Eventually warming to Wang Tang and his rigorous training regime, The Five grow loyal to their teacher and are soon forced to use their new Kung Fu skills to defeat his enemy the Black Widow. Formally Soolin at a time when Wang Tang ignored her advances, the vengeful Black Widow has her accomplice Choo Fang murder Wang Tang stealing his orb in the process which along with the four they have already collected gives her the opportunity to rule the world.

Speaking on the soundtrack of the piece, composer Mikey highlighted that the show’s music was ‘more like a film soundtrack, than the traditional ‘numbers’ you get in a stage show.’ This sense of watching a film was strong throughout the piece supported by the set.

Commissioned by Yeast Culture, a company who create immersive sets and visuals, video is projected on to three stationary projection screens and a range of white blocks of various sizes which are moved around the stage. These tailor made settings gave a three dimensional effect which could clearly be used to the advantage of the choreography.

The Five’s epic final show down with the Black Widow summed up the whole piece as the audience were propelled in to what felt like a battle scene from Street Fighter or Mortal Combat. After leading The Five in their fight for victory, Styleouse one of the original criminals from London seems to have an ulterior motive. After defeating the Black Widow Styleouse holds up the five orbs with an evil glint in his eye as ‘To Be Continued...’ is projected on to the large screen.

Having witnessed two intense hours of hip-hop dance theatre taken to a whole new scale, we cannot wait to see what the next installment holds.

Info: The Five & the Prophecy of Prana is at The Barbican until November 2, 2013. Book tickets

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