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Review of Hive City Legacy at the Roundhouse

Hive City Legacy Production Roundhouse - Helen Murray
Hive City Legacy Production Roundhouse – Helen Murray

Hive City Legacy returns to the Sackler Space in Chalk Farm with enough energy to power the steam train engine turntable that used to run in the big roundhouse above this basement room.

The nine “femmes of colour” fill the small space with song, mime, spoken word, burlesque, poetry, beat-boxing, hip-hop, rap, ropework and twerking – lots and lots of twerking! The piece is episodic with individual stories and vignettes of the life of black women in London. At times it feels a little disjointed, but the sheer power and dynamism of the performances sustain the audience during one or two flat spots in this seventy-five-minute show. If there’s one small criticism it is that to some extent the piece lacks the structure that would have given it less of an episodic feel.

Hive City Legacy is a collaboration between the nine performers and Hot Brown Honey a “fierce collective of Femmes of Colour” from Australia, Busty Beatz and Lisa Fa’alafi. There were over 250 applicants for the nine parts so the ones who were chosen had to go through a rigorous casting process. I’d like to give a shout out for the chosen ones but unfortunately, the audience wasn’t given a programme or even a cast list which I think is a shame and a bit of disservice to the nine talented performers. There are some superb performances and a special mention must go to the performer who started off the piece and took the audience on the journey acting as a Candide-like figure of innocence, learning what it was like to be a woman of colour in 2019, although the tales they tell are timeless.

As well as in the title of the piece, there’s bee imagery everywhere in the costumes, the set construction and in a large neon sign above the stage stating “Pollinate, Activate, Liberate”. I’m not actually sure why they chose bees to underpin the production – maybe it’s to do with the strength and power of the queen bee and the collective make-up of a beehive?

I have to admit as a middle-aged white male, Hive City Legacy isn’t exactly aimed at me, although I thoroughly enjoyed the electricity in the room as the nine “femmes” put everything they had into telling their incredible and at times, disturbing stories. At the end, the audience were up on their feet dancing the night away and following the cast into the streets of Chalk Farm truly pollinated, activated and liberated – well maybe not actually pollinated!

4 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Returning after a sell-out run at the Roundhouse in 2018, nine femmes of colour come together to tell the stories of the unseen and the unheard, tackling issues across race, sexuality and mental health in a riotous, high-octane performance.

Brought to you in collaboration with international creators Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz of Australian sensation Hot Brown Honey, alongside movement director, choreographer and fellow Hot Brown Honey Member Yami Lofvenberg to scour London and bring together an extraordinary league of Femmes of Colour. With over 250 applications for the paid opportunity, a company of artists (aged 18 – 25) mobilised for the first time with skills ranging across circus, beatboxing, spoken word, cabaret, dance and everything in between. Hive City Legacy burst onto the Roundhouse stage for a sell-out two weeks. This summer and autumn they return to Activate, Liberate and Pollinate London, Manchester, Cardiff, as well as creating a new show in Rio de Janeiro. World decolonisation is on the horizon: Make way for the Matriarchy!

Company Information
Written and developed by Busty Beatz, Lisa Fa’alafi, Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg and A League of Extraordinary Femmes.

Director: Lisa Fa’alafi
Assistant Director: Yami Löfvenberg
Choreography: Yami Löfvenberg and company
Sound Design: Xana and Busty Beatz
Music composition: Busty, Xana and company
Lighting Designer: Jessica Hung Han Yun
Costume Designer: Sabrina Henry
Associate Set, Prop and Designer: Emily Harwood
Costume Illustrations: Kezia Frederick
Stage Manager: Sylvia Darkwa-Ohemeng
Production Assistant: Elena Wangurra
Logo Illustration: Erin Aniker

Cast
Aminita Francis, Rebecca Solomon, Krystal Dockery, Farrell Cox, Dorcas A. Stevens, Koko Brown, Elsabet Yonas, Shakaiah Perez and Azara Meghie.

Listings information
15 – 30 July 2019 Roundhouse, London
Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH
https://www.roundhouse.org.uk/

2 – 7 Sept
HOME, Manchester

17 – 18 Oct
Bristol Circus City

7 – 9 Nov
Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru, Caerdydd
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

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