This is a true story, a verbatim piece if you like. A story through the eyes of Jonzi D, that detects the conflict arising from an important letter that comes through the post, this letter can effectively change Jonzi D’s life; could it potentially be a possibility for growth? Or a label that dooms a change for the worst?
Jonzi D is Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention, an international Hip Hop Theatre festival at Sadler’s Wells. He has given much to Hip Hop culture especially in dance and was acknowledged by Her Majesty, awarding him a MBE in 2011. Jonzi D enters the stage in a slow procession, his intricate physicality inquires into the letter, which he brings with him on stage. He dances around the letter, eating it, then spitting it out; his irregular movement is electrifying, dwarfing the stage by his strong presence. We are taken on a journey following the arrival of the letter, wherein he explains to his friends and relations about the news; he is invited to become a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his achievements. We are convinced of various arguments surrounding the award, through the voices of his friends. The diverse characters, which he enacts, take on a rather over-the-top persona, but they manage to successfully express all the different opinions surrounding the MBE.
It is magnetically honest, with an important question asking the audience if they are ready to accept the MBE, and thus accept the British Empire with all the crimes that surround the dominating title. It has made me think about the subject since watching; previously there has not been much public discussion around the roots of this award. The show questions, with good reason, why the MBE title has not changed with the changing of the times. Jonzi D bravely investigates this argument; in an open colloquy he shares with us the crux in his mind through silent yet emotive physical expression. He splits Hip Hop dance movements, which express his inner thoughts, with various characterisations of the important people in his life who have helped him make up his mind, and who give us, the audience, opinions to think about. Does he take the MBE and gain a title for his achievements? Or does he reject it, in the name of his roots and ancestors? Watch it to find out, you will learn something new to think about! 4/5
Review written by RATHE.
Jonzi D: A Letter To Be Or To MBE is currently showing at the Assembly George Square Theatre as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Monday 31st August. For more information on the production, visit here…