Date TimeSeptember 29, 2019
VoiceBarbican, LondonRhythms ricochet around an imaginary cell as the hip-hop partnership return with a darker, depression-themed piece
Boy Blue: Redd review – sequel to Blak Whyte Gray pushes the pain button
In 2017, Boy Blue – the hip-hop partnership founded in 2001 by choreographer Kenrick Sandy and composer Michael Asante – broke new ground with Blak Whyte Gray, a stark, plotless work that was dense with ideas and feelings materialised in sound, visuals and motion. Their follow-up, Redd, occupies similar stylistic ground (the “misspelling” of the colour in the title signals the connection), but suffers somewhat from sequel syndrome: a good piece on its own, yet outclassed by its predecessor.
It’s also a much darker work. The central figure is Sandy himself, who begins shut inside a chamber of harsh light on the smoke-filled stage. One arm skitters as if rattling the bars of a cell. Bolts of energy galvanising his chest and shoulders feel trapped, too, but here the cage is his own hunched body. In the shadows, further figures stalk like guards, or rush past like fugitive thoughts. Asante’s lo-fi score echoes the division between sharp focus and murky penumbra, foregrounding ricochet rhythms and cattle-prod jolts against a background of hisses, echoes and crackles.

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