A curate's egg of religious hip hop theatre
This article is from 2015.
Testament is quick to undermine both his own mythology and that of other rappers. Introducing himself as Andy, he quickly shows his beat-boxing skills and his knowledge of Blake, before weaving his career to date into a play that explores his struggle to be a successful Christian rapper.
Unfortunately, the dramatic Blakean interludes, in which Blake's god-like Zoas throw down raps, are in stark contrast with Andy's life, which follows a typical journey into adulthood. Cursed by the current theatrical preoccupation with self-analysis, Andy's adventures – working with young offenders and building a relationship – are less illuminating. Blake's relationship with Christianity, and even Testamant's dope rhymes, are subsumed to a generic story.
Hip hop and contemporary theatre share a self-regard, but Blake Remixed fails to capitalise on the signifying that makes the best rap exciting. He is overshadowed by the video-projected, rapping Zoas, who tip him off about the power of poetry, before disappearing.
Andy is disarmingly charming, and the rapping, even when he is impersonating the young offenders, is on point. Yet until the drama and the mundane are integrated, this remains a work in progress.
Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug, 10.15pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).