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Kalakuta Republik

“Exploration without elucidation”

Fela Kuti, the revolutionary Nigerian band leader who invented Afrobeat, was imprisoned for his anti-authoritarian music but had a decidedly dodgy attitude to women, is the inspiration for this enthralling but infuriatingly unfocused production from French company Faso Dance Theatre.

The first half – subtitled Without a Story We Would Go Mad – opens with a half-hour remix of Kuti’s music from Ivan Talbot. With no discernible narrative, the angular movements of six dancers are brought into a sometimes coherent form by a seventh, the sharp thrust of their upper bodies contrasting with the lugubrious funk of the music, that threatens to break out into one of Kuti’s polemics.

A smooth change of pace brings a delta blues feel to the music with a change in Eve Martin’s visuals from pictures of fleeing people as seen from a military drone to a river of people in flight. There is, it seems to suggest, a merging of the US American and the African histories of struggle.

For the second half – You Always Need A Poet – the stage has been transformed into a shebeen after the drinkers have long gone. It is dominated by a lone woman, who initially writhes a sensual dance-come-striptease on a podium.

The music, initially electronic but later morphing into wailing saxophone solo, is more insistent, but the choreography looser as it moves from chaos into a unison, with three of the dancers carrying their newfound partners out through the audience.

This is a thrilling response to Kuti’s musical work, but it is a rather less perspicacious reflection of his revolutionary message than it is trying to be.

La Reprise Histoire(s) du Theatre (I) review at Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘extraordinarily powerful’

Production Details
Production nameKalakuta Republik
VenueRoyal Lyceum Theatre
StartsAugust 8, 2019
EndsAugust 11, 2019
Running time1hr 30mins
AuthorSerge Aime Coulibaly
ComposerFela Kuti, Ivan Talbot
ChoreographerSerge Aime Coulibaly
Set designerCatherine Cosme
Costume designerCatherine Cosme
Lighting designerHermann Coulibaly
Video designerEve Martin
CastAdonis Nebie, Ahmed Soura, Antonia Naouele, Ida Faho, Jean-Robert Koudogbo Kiki, Marion Alzieu, Sayouba Sigue, Serge Aime Coulibaly
TechnicalSam Serruys
ProducerFaso Danse Theatre, Halles De Schaerbeek
VerdictAn exploration without elucidation of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti's musical heritage
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Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

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