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Hip-hop along to Shakespeare's latest makeover!



Review by Paul Nelson

THE nearest I have even been to rap music and hip-hop is standing at pedestrian crossings and hearing it being boomed out of car radios, shaking the very asphalt as they go by.

This has not been a happy experience.

Imagine then, my culture shock when, at the New Ambassadors Theatre, I go to hear Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors set to rap.

We've had rock Shakespeare, pop Shakespeare and now rap. The greatest of these is undoubtedly rap and The Bomb-itty of Errors proves it.

The show is very fast. So fast, in fact, that I must have missed at least 30 per cent of the dialogue (which is non-stop rap from beginning to end).

However, what matter when every five seconds, roughly the time span of one line of the (dare I say) libretto, there is a joke so sure of its weight that the rear wall of the theatre is in danger of demolition. I earnestly longed for a script to follow so that I would not miss them. The ones I caught were humdingers. I'd still love to read the script.

There seems to be a new audience for it, too. A mainly young crowd, absolutely au fait with the style, lapped it up and screamed with joy as each gag ripped through the theatre. What Stomp! does for rhythms, Bomb-itty does for words. It is breathtakingly fast.

It is also performed by a canny cast of four people, who double up, treble up and generally people the stage with all the characters you might come to expect from a young playwright who, not too sure of the gold mine he has unearthed, hedges his bets.

Each character is rapidly and finely sketched, bringing to mind The Reduced Shakespeare Company.

The plot, that of two pairs of twins separated at birth and meeting years later on a foreign shore, is further complicated by the fact that each twin has a brother (brothah?) of a different race. Consequently, the jokes are multiplied as they make good use of the racial opportunities.

The show is killingly funny and the cast rise to the occasions that are presented to them with a panache rarely seen in ensemble playing.

Each member of the company seems to have his fan club assembled in the audience, and as delightful and talented as all four men are, one will ultimately pick ones own favourite.

The director, too, must receive his due plaudits, along with the DJ, who effectively emcees the events.

It seems to have been scheduled for a limited run, which I can hardly believe. If this is so, then get your butt over there before it is too late and enjoy one of the most unlikely (for me at any rate) events ever. The show is a real sensation.

The Bomb-itty of Errors by Jordan Allen-Dutton, GQ, Erik Weiner, Jason Catalano, and J.A.Q. (after William Shakespeare), Music by J.A.Q., Directed by Andrew Goldberg, Designer Nick Barnes, Lighting Designer Natasha Chivers, Sound Designer Sebastian Frost (Orbital), Costume Designer David C Woolard. WITH: Charles Anthony Burks, Chris Edwards, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Ranney and DJ Kevin Shand. Presented by Marshall Cordell, Mary Lu Roffe, Martin Sutherland, Guy Chapman, Old Vic Productions, Mark Rubinstein in association with Jim Steinman at the New Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London WC2. Tickets 020 7369 1761.

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