Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Blake Remixed, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Fiona Shepherd.
This is a well-appointed show with visual projections manipulated by world champion scratch DJ Woody and filmed guest appearances by jazz maestro Soweto Kinch, rapper Jehst and ace beatboxer Shlomo, all brought together by Andy Brooks, aka Testament, who led the Guinness World Record-breaking largest human beatbox gathering.
His other claims to fame include airplay on Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra – though this, it transpires, does not cut much ice with the young offenders he mentors at music workshops or almost anyone he has encountered on his frustrated path to recognition.
Although Blake Remixed is ostensibly about Brooks’ emotional connection to William Blake’s life and work, cultivated from his teenage years in tandem with his love of hip hop, the show is far more about Brooks than Blake, tracing his artistic and spiritual epiphany, his early promise and his relative failure to establish a commercially successful career.
He is candid about feeling left behind while his peers on the scene went on to greater things and gamely sends up his corporate sellout, yet with the stage to himself, he uses his beatboxing skills only sparingly, mainly as a device to cut between characters. In the end, this remix is too fragmented to deliver the dramatic impact it seems to promise.
Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61) until 29 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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