by The Paper Birds and Grace Savage.
Soho Theatre (Upstairs) 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE To 25 July 2015.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 July.
Less than helpful title for energetic, enjoyable show.
Once you’ve twice become your country’s Beatbox champion, and the only female to have contested the title successfully, while you’re still in your twenties, what do you do? Blessed, by baptism or deed-poll, with the delightfully oxymoronic moniker Grace Savage, the next step might indeed to be to create a show telling your life-story, with reflections and beatbox demos along the way.
After a shadow-play opening which might be out of a fairly grim folk-tale or Thomas Hardy, Savage sweeps on stage and astounds with a beatbox demonstration that leaves you wondering whether it can all be generated live by one voice. Surely technology is enhancing, or layering the sounds? It is, in any case, a breathtaking experience which leaves its performer unsurprisingly reaching for the water-bottle.
Subsequent scenes indicate such skill comes with commitment and practice. Very much in gracious mode Savage gives elementary instruction in technique and appreciatively records the audience’s collective attempts at some basic sounds. We can all feel quite pleased with ourselves till she deftly adds an extra layer.
Not that there’s any triumphalism; her manner and smiling expression create a sympathy that gives interest to the particular shades of teen agonies in her not-so-distant past.
How much is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the Savage truth is rightly her territory. The lively telling means it’s something an audience will accept, or, if sceptical, will still wish to be true.
There are neat touches, such as the microphone held out to the invisible mother she’s interviewing in one scene, or the wig and once-alternative clothes she wears in shadow then finally reveals on a pole: the identity she left behind in encountering the tough, sexist beatbox world, where resilience is needed every time she opens a Facebook page.
It’s enjoyable meeting the person behind the impressive beatbox sections, to find someone complex and keen to avoid labels which might go some way to describe, but don’t seem to fit, her. The show is a rough assemblage of sections, but so is a life, and this one belongs to a very interesting person.
Performer: Grace Savage.
Voiceovers: Lawrence Speck.
Director: Jemma McConnell.
Designer/Costume: Fiametta Horvat.
Lighting: Kylie Walsh.
Sound: The Media Workshop.