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Shifters by Benedict Combe

Bush Theatre 16th of February - 30th of March

Review by Aruna Jalloh

Yebba's Heartbreak - Drake, Yebba

‘Shifters’, by Benedict Lombe, a play that had me digging for the right tracks that can match the intricate and raw magnificence this play is. There are many romantic stories out there but none as special as this one, which deserves a special track “Yebba’s Heartbreak”. I’ve chosen this song as representation for the overall feeling of the play as it embodies the journey the characters go on  and just the painful reality of a fractured romance. It is in fact heart breaking and tear jerking and the tenderness in Yebba’s voice singing ‘Can I show my love for you?’ mirrors that feeling of emotional overwhelmingness that washes over you whilst experiencing ‘Shifters’.

Sandcastles - Beyonce

The actors are incredible in this play and, of course, Heather Basten knew they would be a perfect fit for this story. The portrayal of vulnerability Tosin Cole gives ‘Dre(am)’ is raw, visceral and honest and Heather Agyepong’s ‘Des(tiny)’ is funny, observant and witty and together they are a powerhouse. I did think of a song sung by a duet that incorporated raw emotions, tough truths and also just have great chemistry together which I felt Mereba and JID did in ‘Sandtorm’, but it did not quite match the level of vulnerability in these performances. Therefore, I feel as though ‘Beyonce- Sandcastles’ encompasses this aspect  as we watch them go on a playful yet vulnerable, tender dance in answering the looming question of; ‘Do you choose me?’. It’s as if Beyonce is the voice for both of their hearts desires and both actors truthfully show us this journey.

Dance Song - Dijon

Talking of dancing though, Dance song by Dijon illustrates Lynette Lintons choice of using proximity to show the boundlessness of intimacy between Dre and Des. Without giving any spoilers away, there were moments where Dre and Des were so far from each other physically but felt so emotionally close and there were times where they are close physically but felt so far apart. This intimate back and forth is reminiscent of the dance Dijon softly delivers in this track, take a listen and you will know exactly what I am talking about. I believe Linton was intentional with this and had it beautifully executed by Cole and Agyepong.

This Woman's Work - Maxwell

The Set, designed by Alex Berry, was simple, stripped back and beautiful which allowed the performances on stage to be full of life and complexity, just like Maxwell’s - this is a woman. This songs starts with these tender harp strings and that sweet falsetto of Maxwell which ushers in the rest of the violins which feels spacious yet full which is similar to the bare set, this song could probably be the theme tune for set alone.

Im Confessin' (that I love you)- Samara Joy

The lights, designed by Neil Austin, captured the euphoric and also imperfect moments of Dre and Des’ romance like Samara Joy’s  ‘I’m confessing’. A soft melodic guitar opens up this track and ushers you into this tentative confession of love, which is mirrors the use of lighting with it’s blues and reddish oranges that illuminate the stage and gently pull us into the history of these characters.  However, Joy’s lyrics contrast this romantic euphoria with these moments of doubt and pain  which grounds this love story into reality  the same way the light held these painful revelations and truths Dre and  Des had experienced in the past or the present. A beautiful duality on the journey of love.

There are so many wonderful aspects to this play from even the writing, which is poignant, raw and sharp with its comedic and yet deep cutting truths and the jarring yet beautiful composition of Xana which holds this plays truth throughout its duration. These are just to mention a few but like most good things in life, this is best experienced.



Honourable mentions

Sandstorm - Mereba ft JID

Pretty Wings - Maxwell

Sweet Tea - Snoh Aalegra


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