Manchester’s Contact Theatre is due a round of applause for playing host to a production that can only be described as an original and unique adaptation of the UK’s basketball culture.
Combining the talents of award-winning visual theatre director Benji Reid and spoken word artist Inua Ellams to bring a rare fusion of physical theatre, poetry, beatboxing and Hip Hop.
The Spalding Suite beautifully combines poetry with contemporary movement which works to celebrate the elegance and refinement of basketball. “Seen from a British perspective, The Spalding Suite gets to the heart and soul of the gravity-defying game and delves into the hopes and dreams of those who play it.”
We couldn’t hope for anything less than spectacular from Benji Reid who has been commended as one of the UK’S pioneers of Hip Hop theatre and culture. Now tonight an audience of no more than 300 hold their breath in anticipation, not knowing what to expect from a performance that promises to deliver a story of basketball through physical theatre.
The ‘oo’s’ and ‘ahh’s’ emitted from the audience diminish all doubt as we see the majestic movement of the basketball ‘Dribble’, the ‘Jump Shot’ and the legendary ‘Slam Dunk’. The powerful synchronisation is accompanied by beatboxing from champion and world finalist MC Zani. We also see stunning performances from Emmanuel Akwafo, KM Drew Boateng, George Bray, Marcquelle Ward and Jason York.
The poetry works well to address issues such as friendships, peer pressure and the relevance of race in basketball. The poetic artistry engages the audience reciprocating applause and clicks from spoken word fans. Reid has successfully blended the realms of music, sport and passion to deliver an honest and rare conception of basketball.
Some may dispute how much relevance the theme of basketball has within the UK but they will be fiercely rebutted by the audience tonight who have seen gravity defied through original theatre.
The Spalding Suite contains poetry by Nick Makoha, Nil Ayikwei Parkes, Bohdan Piasecki, Roger Robinson and Jacob Sam-La Rose.
The show will run in Manchester until Saturday 25 April 2015.
TNT Entertainment Leanna Smith