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Anthem Review

Anthem by The Bush Young Company

Bush Theatre 23rd - 27th of August

Review by Holly Adomah

F*** the idea of young people being the future; they are the present and we need to listen to them more. One More Time - Daft Punk

Apple Music - Spotify The rambunctious vibe was already set as soon as you stepped into the space. With music and the gorgeous use of lighting, you immediately were drawn towards a song of prayer by a member of Bush’s Young Company. You feel their desperation; the need and feel for something more to happen in their life. That was then stripped back and you were welcomed to the world of Anthem and the characters inhabiting it. Anthem is a delicious offering of hope and the sadness which comes before it, all of which highlighted by the powerful performances of the cast and creatives supporting them. The whole piece felt like a celebration of life, the aspects of living and what was so unique about the piece is that it’s unharmed by the pressures they are facing but challenged by their opinions on their own hardships and what they do to defeat them.

meta angel & darjeeling (feat Jorja Smith & Unknown T) - FKA twigs

Apple Music - Spotify (meta angel)

Apple Music - Spotify (darjeeling)

Ok, the PlaysPlaylist crew are going to COME FOR ME for doing this because one of the golden rules for writing a PlaysPlaylist review is not to give a personal opinion but I really have to with this part. I’ve chosen both of these FKA twigs songs as they effectively portray my experience with the journey of Anthem. The characters all have their own significant moments to have one-to-one experiences with the audience, whether or not you are paying attention to notice. The intricate stories are full of heart and are all quite personal. From the conversations played as voice-overs which fill the space to a young person detailing their journey home from a night-out whilst trying not to step on slugs but instead, dance with them. One moment I think I’ll cherish was with two characters protecting one another on a dance floor in case they get unwanted attention. I know I’ve done that a few times and have also been rescued!

There is an undertone of uncertainty throughout the piece. Could this uncertainty be the notion of growing older? Perhaps that anxiety of the party of life ending and having to face the soundless reality of the mundane which we’ll all have to silently groove to. Regardless, the characters evidently don’t want to slow down. Everything in Anthem is fast-paced, chaotic and that adds to the magic of the piece. It doesn’t need to be perfect - nor do our lives and growing up need to be.

The Rest Is Noise - Jamie XX

Anthem is spectacular in the sense that there is a lot of movement to help with the progression of the piece’s narrative. The direction movement from Tanaka Bingwa is striking; there’s a moment with two young people engaging in a playfight, but after a while you notice how they long to reconnect. That was then shown clearer in a discussion between the two; one wanted to join a party whereas the other contemplated whether or not to re-engage in the motive whilst questioning why they feel empty.

Another sense of movement is how the cast all come together as a Greek chorus; they mold themselves to each other to either help support one another, or to strike the audience with comedy and there’s a sensitivity to each character in which you have real empathy towards them. When they are all together, the close relationship they have with one another rings true and is so impactful. I also loved the nod to the Electric Slide at the end as no party can end without that dance move accompanied by Cameo's Candy!

GarageSkankFreestyle - Kano

The real power of Anthem is this idea; to be joyful is to act out of resistance. Each of the characters have been resisting their circumstances in order for them to find their own sense of peace within the music of their lives. Anthem itself is a rebellion against the sorrow, against the angst they are feeling and this is most powerful at the end. The strong use of sound design, movement and breathing intersect beautifully with Destiny’s Child’s Lose My Breath which the cast gave a performance so impactful, you felt blown away.

The last comment I’ll give towards Anthem is that it is a piece which gives young people that vital platform to showcase their talents but also to provide them with the support needed to progress further. Bush Theatre’s Young Company are extremely talented and maintain a professional demeanor which is evidently nurtured by Director and Young Company Co-ordinator Katie Greenall. It is so refreshing to see a production created by such an impressive cohort and more of this work is needed. I hope for there to be more work from the Young Company and who knows, perhaps we might be able to see Anthem again? The run has sold out, would be great to catch another glimpse!


Honourable Mentions:

Everybody But Me - Lykke Li

Afraid of Everyone - The National

Good Life - Inner City

Slave to the Rhythm - Grace Jones

Time (You and I) (Put a Smile on DJ’s Face Mix) - Khruangbin & Felix Dickinson


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