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The Legend of Mike Smith review at The Studio Birmingham Rep

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Soweto Kinch describes this staged performance of his album, The Legend of Mike Smith, as all-immersive, something that has pushed him physically, mentally and creatively. That’s how this extraordinary piece – based on the Seven Deadly Sins – feels for the audience too in this, the first show in the Rep’s impressive new Studio.

The huge, terrifying vision, the breakneck pace, the jazz and hip hop score and the pulsing animations simply swallow you up. It’s a modern morality play in which Mike Smith, a man on a quest and under pressure, contends with rage, lust, avarice and the rest in a world driven by greed, consumerism and the shallow pursuit of fame. He wins the freedom to pull himself out of the inferno and do it his way.

Images and ideas come thick and fast, and there’s so much to savour in the rattle of words. Sequences like “sex menace, Les Dennis, Ben Nevis” delight. Ricardo Da Silva is Smith but he’s replicated and triplicated sometimes by his other selves in the persons of Soweto Kinch himself – also improvising on the saxophone – and Tyrone Isaac-Stuart.

Lust culminates in an animal raid on the audience, and strap-hanging on the Underground develops into fury, aggression and arrest. Avarice and Greed are the most chilling, as Smith, weighed down with excess eating and shopping, vomits up designer labels. Elsewhere, he’s rolled around a gaming board like a dice. Drummer Shane Forbes, and bass player Nick Jurd, complete the ensemble. A mind-blowing experience.

Production Information

The Studio, Birmingham Rep , September 16-28, then October 1-5, Albany, London

Soweto Kinch
Jonzi D
Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company, The Albany
Soweto Kinch, Ricardo Da Silva, Tyrone Isaac-Stuart
Running time
1hr 25mins

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