Musical Review: `Kat and the Kings'

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A musical about the oppression of Cape Coloured entertainers in South Africa during the 1950s? Surely it's got "right-on" written all over it? As it turns out, Kat and the Kings is much more Five Guys Named Moe than Cry Freedom.

Sure, the work by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen is au fait with political issues - but it nods to them rather than embraces them like old friends. For instance, even after the singing Cavalla Kings foursome from the depressed district six of Cape Town have made it, white MCs comment: "If they weren't here, they'd be breaking into your car."

But such brief political jabs are overwhelmed by the flurry of musical punches the show aims at you. Kat and the Kings is predicated on the conceit that old Kat (the wonderful Salie Daniels, on whose real-life story the musical is based) is now a shoe-shine man reflecting on his halcyon days as part of a locally popular singing group in the 1950s.

That is the flimsiest of pretexts, however, for a series of rip-roaring song and dance numbers. Once into its stride the show at the Tricycle on Thur- sday had critics smiling, tapping their feet, and - glory be - clapping along. That was all down to the exuberance of the cast. You would not have been humming many of the songs on your way home, and some rhymes did not rise above schoolboy level. But under Kramer's direction, the quartet of Jody Abrahams, Loukmaan Adams, Junaid Booysen and Ricardo Buchenroder, supported by Kim Louis as manager, dazzled with their verve. They were able to make music out of anything from a belt to a coat-hanger. As for the show's message, that was simple too: stuff politics, let's dance.

`Kat and the Kings' continues at the Tricycle Theatre, London NW6 (0171 328 1000) till 8 Nov

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