Poet in da Corner
By Debris Stevenson & Jammz.
The Royal Court Theatre, 50-51 Sloane Square, London SW1TW 8AS to 22 February 2020.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 70 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
Review: William Russell 5 February.
Heaven knows grime may have passed me by and Dizee Rscal, who so inspire Debris Stevenson to become the person she is, is but a name vaguely registered somewhere in the depths of my brain, but this is one of the most exhilarating evenings I have spent in a theatre for a long time. It is funny, moving, and full of interesting insights into how someone escapes from the working class Mormon world they were born into and becomes a free spirit and a truly splendid gig. Whether it is what one calls a play is another matter. But it is pure theatre, one in which the audience also plays its part being confided in, taunted and made to move. It seems that a copy of Rascal’s Boy in da Corner which she was given by her friend a pirate DJ called SS Vyper (played Jammz, her co-writer) is what introduced her to this strange new world of grime. Minutes into the performance SS Vyper rises in the audience and storms on stage complaining she has stolen his story and thereafter words, music, and dance collide in spectacular fashion.
They are backed Kirubel Belay, who plays Tony, a fellow DJ and Stacy Abalogon who plays, among other parts, that Mormon mum who so defined Stevenson’s childhood. Her postman father was mostly away from home and mother’s beliefs ruled the household. The energy level on stage is staggering, and the 70 minutes prove some kind of demented dream in which Stevenson grows up, acquires an education and transforms herself from East End working class child with not much of a future into a poet, performer and dancer fuelled by grime. The piece started at the Royal Court in 2018 and now returns in a new production to coincide with the release of the Poet in da Corner album which will go on tour after the stint in Sloane Square. Mum: Stacy Abalogun.
26 Feb – 1 Mar The MAC, Belfast; 6-7 March The Curve, Leicester; 10 – 14 March Birmingham Rep; 19 -21 March Nottingham Playhouse;24 – 28 March HOME, Manchester; 31 March – 4 April – Hackney Empire.
Tony: Kirubel Belay.
SS Vyper: Jammz.
Debris: Debris Stevenson.
Director: Olga Ince.
Music Director/Lead composer: Michael ‘Mikey’ Asante.
Designer: Jacob Hughes.
Lighting Designer: Anna Watson.
Sound Designer: Tony Gayle.
Choreographer: Aaron Stills.
Costume Supervisor: Lucy Walshaw.
Production photographs: Helen Murray.