Creators: The Pappyshow
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Ten men of colour stand on stage as the lead dancer proclaims, “This is a celebration of our manhood. Let’s start with a fight scene!” This is the explosive start to what is an hour of mesmerising, moving and funny group movement and storytelling from the ensemble.
Formed in 2013 to train actors in movement, The Pappyshow is a playful, physical and visual company who use their life experiences and heritage to devise the pieces they perform. Boy’s: A Celebration of Manhood takes snap shots of masculinity from its members and displays them in an open and honest way for the audience to interpret in any way they see fit.
After the fight vignette, the action moves to a game of truths, or lies, where each member of the cast, lined up at the back of the arena, steps forward and speaks a statement about themselves. Some are funny, some facile and crude, while others are very touching. This continues until the troupe reach the front of the stage. This device draws the crowd in, allowing them to start investing in the performers and what they have come to say. From here the onlookers are hooked for the entirety of the show, waiting eagerly for each twist and turn.
As the performance unfolds we are treated to an exploration in intimacy through a trilogy of love affair dances, a group display of stories about the individuals’ heritage, called the Map of the World, where we hear tales from as far and near as Jamaica, Cameroon and … north London. Also, there is an exploration of the discipline the boys receive, the school bullying and competition they endure as well as a Hacker style group piece; breathtaking to watch.
This is a story of what it is to be a boy and become a man, warts and all. It can be cruel, lonely, frustrating and isolating growing up, but The Pappyshow believe this is overcome by togetherness, sharing, trust and a brotherhood that cannot be broken. It is an open, honest, uplifting message to hear.
Reviewed on 13 July 2018 | Image: Contributed