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Edinburgh Fringe 2023


Mixed Other Arts in association with Cardboard Citizens and Soho Theatre

Genre: Theatre

Venue: Roundabout at Summerhall


Low Down

Aria and Clef rhyme their way through their future and pasts whilst under the watchful gaze and guidance of the master MC. Throwing down infectious nostalgic Bangers.


My youth was clubbing in the noughties. I remember those beats and thise drops and I remember the taste of alcopops on my breath the next morning. I was excited to see this play to reminisce, I was excited to see this play to relive and I was overjoyed to see bottles of VK in varying artificial colours flanking the Dj Booth as I walked into the Paines Plough Roundabout. I remember this place. I was young and wild in this place.

The round playing space of the Roundabout greets us with large and small heavily graffitied and stickered boxes centre stage. The sort of black boxes that you would see at a music venue. The tunes are already blasting out and you feel ready to rewind the years.

The DJ (Duramaney Kamara) is our MC and guide through the twists and turns of the lives of Aria and Clef (Danusia Samal and Jim Caesar) in their separate and intertwining stories. The main characters shift and change playing the incidental characters for each other as we move through their individual journeys. Mostly beautifully characterised and easy to differentiate but at times confusing. Especially in the first scene where the DJ has just introduced the two main characters by name then we immediately go into Aria’s story arc and presume that Clef is in there too which he is not, but the actor is, playing a different character. Many audience members were still musing on this upon departure from the venue which I worry took away from the enjoyment of the piece as a whole.

The entire play is performed in rhyme verging on spoken word. It’s poetic, poignant and at times vicious and violent but all the while remaining on point and accessible. This is a tale of two different London lives at their rawist but is still relatable. What Kamara as the DJ creates is a safe space with every Banger that he drops, a space where we and our protagonists can escape pain and trauma and look to the future. We’re in London but you don’t need to be from here to know these problems or to have felt this pain. 

Aria is struggling to overcome a trauma from her past and Clef is trying to decide what is next for his future. We’ve all been there and the tunes keep building before the drop. I was slightly disappointed by the revelation of Aria’s struggle. Not to downplay the trauma but I feel we could have gone deeper. However I did love the refusal to deal with the pain and the ‘getting back in your box’ moments which were exquisitely directed by Chris Sonnex. Somal, as the writer, didn’t quite hit the mark for me with the revelations and outcomes for each character but even so, I was with them and rooting for them throughout the entirety of the show.

We were encouraged by our DJ guide to reclaim the Bangers, to reclaim our self confidence no matter how powerful the person was who took it away. The music is rousing, the crowd is cheering and we were all on our feet. 

A very well utilised and creatively embodied playing space, beautifully crafted language and excellent lyrics are thrown down. The level of vocal talent is outstanding and not up for discussion. And we haven’t even delved into the musical nostalgia plus points but however enjoyable all this was I wasn’t sold on the overall story. Which is a shame as I really wanted to be. However, I was left with a positive message of hope and the reassurance that we all can command our own fate. And let’s not forget those Bangers!