Austin wakes up on a beach and reimagines himself as Black Ulysses, thirsty for adventure but ever fearful of the problems that have haunted him all his life. He inhabits a world filled with societal unrest and gun crime, but faces up to his fear of water and enclosed spaces with the help of some animal friends and the council of a wise lobster. There are lots of influences credited in Austin Dean Ashford’s Odyssey, not least Disney’s The Jungle Book, but ultimately this is a one-man hip-hop poem about escape and the need for self care.
Using a mixture of fluid physical theatre, dance and rap-poetry, Ashford creates a vivid landscape of shimmering mountains and thick forests dominated by kindly panthers and insidious snakes. His quest is given a musical accompaniment and although there can’t be many rappers who could pull off a ukulele in their act, Ashford totally nails it.
Ashford paints a fascinating picture for (I)sland (T)rap: The Epic Remixology of the Odyssey but there are so many influences, the colour palette gets a little muddy at times. His storytelling technique, however, is utterly persuasive, drawing even the most die-hard cynic into the occasional snatches of audience participation.