Theatre Review for RUSH at The Birmingham Rep by Sid Edwards

Theatre Review for RUSH at The Birmingham Rep

Like an old friend accompanying you to your seat, the unseen sound system in the auditorium welcomes you with familiar songs, the lyrics you know and a bass you can feel.

Faces of all shades, full of excited expectation, a space filling with warmth and togetherness. Ken Dread was a kindred spirit for many of us clutching our boarding passes. He led us on our journey with a spring in his step and locks to the floor.

In no time, people were rocking in their seats, more rocking on their feet, demonstrating the dance floor not to be designated but wherever you are situated.

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For those already in the know, the performance confirms and solidifies little bits of knowledge, collective experiences, commonalities and shared memories about our journey to this place and time. For others, it paints a colourful picture that explains why, despite obstacles and barriers in our way, still we rise.

Love, loss, set backs and breakthroughs, facts and painful truths are soothed with melody and spiced with rhyme. The story points to historical landmarks and milestones all punctuated and emphasised through songs and lyrics.

From proud African, captured and shipped, to rebellious enslaved people. From optimistic, hopeful voyagers who didn’t “come with their two arms swinging” to misunderstood, marginalised communities. From fighters for Queen and country to victims of a hostile environment. From monkey chants to Members of Parliament.

The diverse and hugely talented cast, singers and players of instruments faithfully recreated the vibes of sounds spanning many decades. The role of music in the field of conflict is demonstrated in RUSH. Just as a stadium resounds with voices in celebration or as a means of rousing adversaries, the act of singing and dancing serves also to emphatically state ‘we are not beaten’.

Each time we were told we were no good and to go back, we had a song saying we were young, gifted and Black. Each time we were denied and told to wait, we had a song telling us to get up, stand up and fight for our rights. Each time we were told it wasn’t our place to dream, we had a song saying we can get it if we really want if we try, try and try.

It is a story about centuries of strength and resilience in the face adversity. A story of success against all odds.

A joyous celebration of music that motivates, a music of protest and a music that unites.

This review is published at The Best of Birmingham.

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