Crime of the Century (3 stars)

This article is from 2009.

Crime of the Century

Young lives on the edge

Chickenshed’s strength is simultaneously its weakness. The company boasts of its willingness to take on social issues, yet Crime of the Century is undermined by blunt stereotyping. Drawing the link between knife crime and social depravation in simple lines, they use hip-hop to expose the horror of urban teenage life. There is energy and some skilful illustrative dances, however, they rarely manage to get beneath the headlines.

A single murder becomes the focus for stories about the victim, his killer and the society that has bred them. In a dour hour, the school failures, the appeal of gangster chic and bad parenting are all discussed in rap, music and dance: the male group work especially dramatic, the raps lacking any flow or lyrical elegance. Chickenshed works its cast hard, their athleticism stretched by aggressive acrobatics. The underlying theme – of a world without discipline or hope – is hammered home, while the final murder is effectively chilling.

The essential flaw is that it claims to resent the way youth are demonised, while characterising them all as hopeless dope-smokers, on their way to hell with a rap soundtrack. It is a solid production, well-paced and intense but tends to be rather too obvious and simplistic.

Zoo Southside, 662 6892, until 30 Aug (not 19), 2.45pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8).

Crime of the Century

  • 3 stars

'I shanked him. D'ya understand? I shanked him.' Chickenshed's explosive dance theatre turns its attention to the proliferation of knife crime amongst young people. From the creators of 'As the Mother of a Brown Boy'.

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