Spoken word is uncommon in today’s mainstream theatres, but once again HOME stand out from the crowd with their unique performances. Imprint is a spoken word play that follows seven performers and their struggles with parentage and legacy. You’d be forgiven for thinking that spoken word plays mean actors simply standing in front of you and reciting the poetry they wrote in a school English class; the cast of Imprint take the idea of performing poetry and turn it into something utterly moving.
After recently seeing a show at HOME performed in the round, I didn’t think seeing it set out in the traditional way would be as appealing. However, with the juxtaposition of the complex array of emotions and the simplicity that this play elicits from us, it works perfectly. Young Identity, a Manchester-based spoken word collective, know their target audience and chose the best place to perform their piece. A play by Mancunians aimed at the struggles we know all too well, Imprint focuses on issues such as terrorism and the loss of identity – but not in the typical way that every other play does. When tackling delicate issues in live theatre, playwrights tend to follow a formula to ensure that what they say comes across in a way that doesn’t leave an audience permanently questioning what they have just witnessed, but Young Identity don’t worry about that. They perform from their souls and leave us questioning every single syllable we hear, to ensure that we absorb every drop of this company’s excellence.
The young cast and creatives behind Imprint are the kind of people you want to spend hours talking to about everything and nothing, they are so ahead of their time with everything they believe and feel. They portray this so vibrantly on stage. We feel every word they’re saying, we notice every sigh, every breath, every step and it constantly leaves us craving more. The use of anonymity in this piece is remarkable, the all-white costumes and the idea of placing boxes where faces should be is genius. Not only do we build a relationship with the characters who we see in front of us, but we build a relationship with their story and their hardships.
The whole cast are ridiculously talented. Not only do they perform spoken word, but they also move in such a way that might evoke emotion from even the biggest cynic. One performer in particular, Damani Dennisur, managed to hold my attention for the entirety of the 50-minute piece, even when he wasn’t on stage. The way he moves and speaks with such ferocity is something that any actor at any level should aspire to. He interacts with every member of that audience without even realising it. Everyone was transfixed in the same way I was, and in small scale theatre, that’s an incredibly difficult feat to achieve.
Imprint is an incredible journey of self-discovery and self-doubt, all encapsulated in a 50-minute spoken word performance by an undeniably talented young collective. Before the piece started, I overheard a relative of one of the cast in the row behind me mention how nervous she was for seats to be filled. But for me, the magic of Imprint means that it would work for an audience of ten, or an audience of 500. The whole piece feels like a family affair from start to finish, and we’re welcomed in by the stories of people we’ve never met, but people we all relate to.
Imprint played until 23 January as part of the PUSH Festival. For more information and tickets, visit the HOME Manchester website.