Edinburgh Fringe 2016
“The streets of suburbia are alive in this story of love, friendship and pride. Escape or redemption: what brings the gangs to town? Will brother turn against brother to conquer the heart of the city? When the gentle gangster meets the most desirable girl of all, will love bloom? A Bang! To the Heart is going to happen! Immerse yourself in this incredible show featuring 10 dancers, an ever-changing stage design enhanced by video projections, special live effects and an original soundtrack.”
NUE Dance Company present “Bang! To the Heart”, with ten dance members showing their gangster qualities. From their dance abilities to their role-play characters, in general, the performance was enjoyable to watch.
The setting: the streets, obviously. If you hadn’t figured that out by the apparent street wall set design, you’re in the wrong place. Within the first 2 minutes of the show, the dance and theatre combination provide you with tell-tale signs that there is going to be a hip-hop battle some time to come, and they deliver. A young, lovable character fights for his love with the ‘king of the streets’ in a battle to the end. Punches, kicks, referees and finally a gun, all included.
At first, the introductory scene of the video projections at the sides of the stage takes the lead. Will this be too much of a distraction? No, of course not. Once the dancers take to the stage, the projections become part of the background, flickers that add to the overall ambiance—thankfully. And besides, the dancers prove that they are the focus of the show with exaggerated pops, locks, and drops of energy. The opening scene also demonstrates a hint of cartoon elements, with the musical equivalent of ‘bang!’ and ‘thud’ playing in the background. A cute and quirky ‘cat-and-mouse’ scene adds a bit of humour before the soon-to-be love tragedy.
The set design is well thought out, right down to the finest detail. Heading back to hip-hop’s roots on the streets, the set demonstrates a multi-functional, highly varied and diverse setting for the dancers. The brick wall serves as an impressive height addition to the stage, allowing the members to leap and jump all around. Additionally, what seems like a city bicycle rack to the audience becomes a dancers’ bar for support and lift. Ingenious! However, as effective as the stage is, the only downer is the transition time during scenes to set it up.
The men show off their ability and strength, making it look easy! The only hint of struggle noticeable is the amount of sweat dripping from their bodies. And as for the ladies, the sass was on the mark. The feisty females show strong movements that hit the beat. The trio of suburbia dancers, or as I like to image them: the Powerpuff Girls all grown up (Living On the Streets edition), provide to be the centre and drama of the show. Costumes aid to distinguish the broads: we have Blossom, with a hint of red (the main love attraction for all men roaming the streets), Bubbles, with a strip of blue (a goofy, dopy character) and Buttercup, with a stripe of green (the tough girl with attitude).
All the characters dance to their strength, some clearly break-dancers, while others lead with their contemporary dance skills. The synchronization of the group performances lacked consistency, but as mentioned, the unique talent of each dancer overlooks it. All together the piece shows a variety of skill and flaring movement accompanied by exceedingly thespian facial expressions.
The story line, as cheesy and as playful, is something that is expected from a hip-hop performance. The targeted audience is for the family and I couldn’t agree more; although as mentioned, the resembling childish cartoons and games makes it more suited to a younger crowd than a professional seeking excellence. If you’re looking for a little laugh and an acrobatic performance of a thug Romeo and Juliet love story, then Bang! To the Heart is the show for you.