Some Like It Hip Hop, Peacock Theatre, London
Tuesday 01 November 2011
This is glorious. Some Like It Hip Hop, the new show from streetdance company ZooNation, is a fizzing tale of love, gender politics, lost daughters and heroic librarians. The music and dancing are superb: everything in this show has wit, heart and magnificent energy.
Directed by choreographer Kate Prince, ZooNation made its name with Into the Hoods, a hip-hop retelling of Sondheim's Into the Woods that became the West End's longest-running dance show. With Some Like It Hip Hop, the company takes several leaps forward.
Prince and her team have created their own music and storyline, drawing gleefully on the cross-dressing comedy of Some Like It Hot and Twelfth Night. The setting is a cartoon dystopia, a city of corrugated iron where books are banned and women are oppressed. Thrown out of the city for insubordination, heroines Jo-Jo and Kerri sneak in by disguising themselves as men.
Prince, clearly disturbed by the strand of macho misogyny in hip-hop, creates a brilliant parody of it here. The men's crotch-grabbing swagger is a hairsbreadth away from the real thing – undercut by the way the two women pick up the attitudes, trying out straddle stances and aggression.
Prince's character comedy is wonderful. As Jo-Jo and Kerri, Lizzie Gough and Teneisha Bonner have moves so sharp you can believe they'd get away with it, while we can see their hearts quaking under the false moustaches. They're matched by Tommy Franzen as the bookish Simeon, the only man brave enough to defy the ban on books.
Though Prince and co-writer Felix Harrison provide a narration, spoken by Tachia Newall, most of the storytelling is in the songs and dances. The show can switch in an instant from ragtime piano chases to sweet love scenes. The music, by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen, swoops from hip-hop to soul and back again, with terrific live singers.
Every person in this big cast creates a distinctive character, a personal twist to the brilliant street dance tricks. Duwane Taylor has authority as the oppressive governor, with an unexpected streak of goofiness as the story turns happier. Natasha Gooden has explosive energy as his long-lost daughter.
Prince throws everything into the mix, and can risk overloading her story. But the overflow of energy here is utterly irresistible. Some Like It Hip Hop sweeps to a triumphant finale, wave after wave of dancing, each one more amazing than the last.
To 19 November (0844 412 4322)
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Why are UK rail fares so expensive?
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
Calvin Harris named highest-paid DJ in the world ahead of David Guetta and Avicii
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
The funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Tim Vine wins for second time
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head