I Am Rhythm (4 stars)

This article is from 2016

I Am Rhythm

Eight South African song and dance men generate the kind of whole-hearted, full-bodied pleasure that transcends cultural clichés

Enormously likeable, this feel-good show by South Africa's After Freedom Productions isn't the least bit commercially slick and is all the better for it.

Any initial impression that the performance will merely regurgitate tired cultural stereotypes of happy, smiling Africans is soon jettisoned thanks to the cast's sheer exuberance and sunny verve.

These eight young song and dance men are indefatigably high-energy and genuinely eager-to-please extroverts who want to connect with their audience. They feed off of the pleasure we take being in their company, looking at us with unabashed sincerity. This reciprocity is heartening.

The show is pretty unfocused but more than gets by, in part because the group is simply so adept in urban and traditional dances ranging from tribal warrior moves to gumboot steps to current street styles. They're also robust and satisfyingly harmonic vocalists.

In terms of personality and looks, there's nothing cookie-cutter about them. What's more, they exude an abundance of warm and friendly testosterone but aren't at all shy about embracing camp comedy. It's a hoot when three of them sashay about in polka-dot tube dresses, jiving with more conventionally gender-identified counterparts.

Dance Base, until 14 Aug, 4pm, £12 (£10).

I Am Rhythm

  • 4 stars

Online tickets end 2 hours before the performance starts - this does not mean the event is sold out and tickets may be available at the door.