Run it back at the Hackney Showroom is a dynamic and immersive show, which portrays the possibilities and issues of club culture. It uses music and dance to immerse its audience, who play a huge part in this production by Talawa Theatre Company’s TYPT company of emerging black theatre makers. In some way, members of the audience are characters themselves, serving as people at this party. Run it back establishes the relationship between actors and audience by its interactive nature, from reactions from the audience to the responses by the actors.
The narrative is simple: it follows a group of teens which take over an abandoned warehouse to invite people (the audience) to a party. The play explores club culture within the black community and the issues imbedded in party culture. Themes in this production include masculinity, consent, respect, homophobia, colourism and more.
Director Coral Messam shows a contrast between the enjoyment of the club and the darker and more deeper meanings behind it. Although the show is directed by Messam, it is devised with the actors. The actors and director clearly show this equality in the performance, as every character has their own segment, which demonstrates the benefits of creating a show as a collective. Another element Messam has incorporated in the show is the dynamic use of movement. The dance in this production is incredibly well choreographed and shows authenticity and power, bridging theatre and dance.
The ensemble of actors sustain the energy throughout the production. The actors multi-role and collectively curate the show without losing any energy. The actors and audience also have a clear relationship, which leads to hilarious impromptu moments. The intriguing atmosphere in the Hackney Showroom studio proves that this audience interaction is powerful.
The writing and dialogue of Run it back is by no means a masterpiece but it functions to create the right feeling and representation of the production. The writing also stems from it being a devised piece; it therefore does not have an established writer attached to the production.
Designer Amanda Mascarenhas has created a bare and stripped-back set, which adds to the urban setting of the play. The neon colours and police tape decorated suit the energy of the piece.
Run it back is a dynamic and interesting production that demonstrates the conventions as well as the issues within club culture in London. It does this with high energy and immense musicality. If you are interested in a demonstration of London culture, then this is the play for you.
Run it back played at the Hackney Showroom until 31 August. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo: Sanaa Abstrakt