No one does scene-setting for young audiences better than Oily Cart. Rather than just taking their seats, audience members at Hippity Hop are greeted by the cast in a sort of theatrical holding area, offered a taste of what’s to come – as well as a fetching cap of their choice – and then led into the auditorium for the start of the show proper.
Oily Cart is brilliant at making its audience feel comfortable and this show, a revival of a production originally created for the Lyric Hammersmith back in 2004, does exactly that.
Patrick Lynch’s energetic production tells the story of Lady K (Katherine Vernez Gray) and Solocypher’s (Oli Polidore Perrins) mission to reunite a lost baby with its mother, by way of various colourful shopkeepers played by Vernez Gray and Polidore Perrins in turn. Music, as the title of the show suggests, is central from the start, with the actors rapping along to a score composed by hip hop artist Breis, Kadialy Kouyate – who sings and plays kora live – and Richard Edwards.
The beats are good enough to make both youngsters and parents want to dance as they make their way around designer Marcello Chiarenza’s circular promenade playing space, and the lyrics are simple and clear yet enjoyably knowing. Kouyate’s kora and sweet voice get somewhat lost in the mix, however – a bizarre missed opportunity for a company that usually does live music so well.
Audience interaction is pitched more towards the upper end of the 2-5 year-old recommended age range for the show, but younger ones will enjoy the show’s sensory elements, from touchable fabrics to smellable scents.