Where did the Summer go? It’s been a whirlwind few months that has encapsulated the joys of a typical British season. A cornucopia of malevolent weather, heroic sporting triumphs and a calendar chock-a-block with festivals that cater for every whim and fancy. So, here we are at the start of September and the onset of Autumn, when the nights start to get longer, the days become colder and it all feels less hazy than it once was. Therefore, its with keen feverishness that we welcome Hive City Legacy, currently playing at HOME Manchester, for one last chance to enjoy that feeling that only the Summer months can bring. That outlandish splash of colour, the base-thumping grooving beats and the lyrical machinations that let me have one last chance to be utterly indulgent.
From the creators of Hot Brown Honey, which took HOME by a storm a couple of Christmases ago, is a story that centres around what the blurb says are “the experiences of femmes of colour, confronting issues of race, sexuality and mental health.” Sometimes as a wordsmith you have to just admit defeat and doth your metaphorical hat to someone else’s genius. If anything sums up this vibrant production then it is the phrase “Femmes of colour”. For that is exactly what we get, femmes of colour, regaling us through dance, song and poetic vocal snippets that have us tapping our toes, humming along and raising a salute in solidarity with the cast!
This Roundhouse production in collaboration with Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz as well as hip-hop artist Yami ‘Rowdy’ Löfvenberg centres around several vignettes that has the cast body bopping its way through early morning commutes and office parties. The set is strewn with boxes juxtapositioned alongside each other, and like all boxes, we crave to see what hidden delights are interred within.
Those boxes once open allows the nine strong cast to cast its spell. There are wonderful moments of tribalistic dance intertwined with hypnotic hip hop tunes. There’s also poignant moments of reflection as the cast athletically turn their talents to interpretive aerial acrobatics. In that moment it is what the essence of the show is about, allowing people to express themselves without the confines of expectations.
The production may rely on a variety of tricks but it also does not shy away from focussing on a range of topics within those episodic interludes. Racism, mental health, politics, sexualisation and nationalism are some of the issues that are covered in this short burst of fusion. Indeed, it’s somewhat apt that I sat through the part where nine femmes of colour dissect what it means to be British through a funky rendition of the national anthem and the flag of St George, in the week that the traditional end of Prom season sees a mostly white audience descend on the Royal Albert Hall to wave their Union Jacks and sing in unison the anthemic Land of Hope and Glory. Oh the irony!
Hive City Legacy doesn’t shy away from its message. It’s not trying to be big or clever by cleverly insinuating its themes. It’s big, bold and blooming brassy and it’s here to stay!
Verdict: Sassy, funky and an audacious production from the creators of Hot Brown Honey, that has nine “femmes of colour” spitting out hip hop verses, breakdancing and body popping zany dance moves and by the end will have you literally out of your seat dancing in solidarity with these glorious sisters!