Wednesday, 26 October 2016

GRIT & GRACE: A Tribe Ting artfully blends word-sound power and refined soul energy

WARRIOR SPIRIT: Members of the show's youthful, energetic cast.

“The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son” by poetess Lorna Goodison makes a surprising but much-welcomed appearance in A Tribe Ting, the latest theatrical offering from Tribe Sankofa that combines monologues, drama, dub poetry and word-sound-power energy to create a rich tapestry of artistic expression that provokes thought and rousingly entertains.

Conceived and directed by Fabian Thomas, the two-act show assembles a troupe of energetic young performers whose robust voices, emotional intelligence and pleasant singing chops keep the show afloat, even when the potency of the material occasionally dips below par.

In the end, the core of the show’s appeal rests in the fusion of stirring original pieces with classic selections from the oeuvre of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Sunni Patterson and Peter Tosh (among others) to explore themes and issues ranging from grave injustices and intimate relationships to identity and what it means to truly be free.

In one scene, the actors dramatically pay tribute to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, recalling such unforgettable watershed moments as the call-to-action ‘I Can’t Breathe’, while honoring the memories of Trayvon Martin, Mario Deane, Khajeel Mais, and the list goes on.

But variety is the spice of life, so we are also introduced to lovers finding their way back to each other, conflicted souls longing to be understood, frolicking “vampires” plotting their next move and young girls discovering the power of inner beauty. Throughout, the black-clad, expressive performers commit to the characters, pulling you ever deeper into the performance.

As the show’s title reminds us, family is paramount and it’s a truth that A Tribe Ting consistently underscores. Overall, the nine-member cast delivers a spare, minimalist work, but it is imbued with enormous vigour, thanks in no small part to the refined soul energy that their bare feet seem to pull up from the ground. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

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