Who could have predicted that Kenneth Grahame’s genteel Edwardian tale about riverbanks and hot buttered toast would translate so well to Metta Theatre’s grime infused retelling? I went in sceptical; I came out converted by one of the freshest, most original pieces of theatre I’ve seen this year.
Metta Theatre’s touring production In The Willows transforms the classic tale of Wind in the Willows into a hip-hop musical for the 21st century.
This isn’t the Wind in the Willows by Alan Bennett or Disney. In Metta Theatre’s cheeky, exuberant hip-hop musical version, Kenneth Grahame’s oar-plashing sylvan tale is kidnapped by the unruly class at The Willows school, next to the rough Wildwood Estate where the Weasel gang rule.
Metta theatre’s The Little Mermaid at the Underbelly Festival is skilful, charming, and lyrically beautiful in music and movement, economically directed by Burton Morgan.
Every performer displays bucket-loads of charisma, musical talent and quite sublime circus skills in The Little Mermiad. Even if you don’t have a child to entertain, you can’t fail to be utterly entranced by this delightful, splashy sisterhood.
It was a first for me to be able to appreciate Little Mermaid performed this way. However, I hope this will be the first of many opportunities as I witnessed something extraordinary in Metta Theatre’s production.
At first, Metta Theatre’s Little Mermaid may seem like a simplified interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic, but beneath the surface lies a magical concoction of trapeze, aerial, and acrobatics. This beautiful reinvention of the popular tale presents the perfect mixture of expression through movement and vocals, whilst being engaging for all ages.
Using a vibrant and intoxicating fusion of hip-hop, street dance, circus and storytelling, Metta’s Jungle Book is suitable for all ages 8 and up.
Here’s a female Mowgli, Baloo as a beatboxing bin-man urging us to imagine “bare necessities on a bare stage”, and an urban jungle of skateboarding parkour wolves, a supercool Kaa, a trapezing vulture and an immense, fabulously muscled Shere Khan villain, Dean Stewart: whose CV proclaims him expert in the disciplines of “krump, popping, breaking (b-boy) contemporary, jazz and hip-hop” not to mention dancing behind Sugababes.