John Kander and Fred Ebb
Reality Rating: 4/5
Fidget Factor: 0.2
Guilty Pleasure holds a whole new meaning. Unlike the satisfaction that chocolate, cookies and cake deliver, ‘Scottsboro Boys’ leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Difficult to digest for all the right reasons. A story of injustice and prejudice performed through electric song and dance – satire at it’s best.
Kander and Ebb tell the true story of nine young African-American men, falsely accused of raping two white women in an enlightening, upbeat musical. Controversial remark? It was confusing to know whether to clap furiously, laugh out loud or sit, still, stunned by the chaos and calculated wrong doings being illuminated on stage. The audience remained entranced by the sensational choreography and spine tingling song. Haywood Patterson (Brandon Victor Dixon) in particular left me jaw dropped and catching flies. An electric chair scene explored through tap dance, composes a stomach churning torment into a playful, animated sketch.
Mr Bones (Julian Glover) and Mr Tambo (Forrest MccLendon) apply over exaggerated faces and inflated movement, true to the ‘minstrel show’ Kander and Ebb use to tell the tale. Irritating and grating by the second act – it was a relief to have them offstage. Perhaps a conscious decision by the writers and director; an additional reason to dislike the pair that embody the white power forced over the young men.
‘The Lady’, the only female actor on stage is a ghostly figure, silent but present. A mother figure for Haywood, with a constant longing gaze and clenched hands, represents his hope and need for freedom. A significant role for the play, we see her fight for her civil rights when she decides to sit on the ‘white’ side of the bus, the first time we hear her speak. She is the influential icon, Rosa Parks – a sensational scene that causes blood in your finger tips to pulse with encouragement and support for her actions.
I can not fault the actors energy in this piece, constantly bursting and popping, captured perfectly in the numerous adverts scattered over London. Fidget factor came in low at 0.2, a few uncomfortable squirms and anxious face rubbing was the only motivation to move.
Thanks to Hayley Spong for the chance to see such a powerful performance.
Time: 1 Hour 45 minutes
Previously @ Young Vic
Running: 4 Oct 2014 ►21 Feb 2015