Liverpool Sound and Vision review The Broke 'N' Beat Collective

What do you get when you get a beat-boxer, poet, dancer and puppeteer in the same room? Certainly nothing that has been seen before as, 20 Stories High and Theatre-Rites collaborate to produce a spectacular show.

The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective is described as a mash up of hip-hop, theatre and puppetry and brings together four incredible young talents each outstanding in their own field. Beat-boxer Hobbit provides all the music and sound effects throughout and with the use of his loop system sets the tone nicely for the evening. He also provides voices to the different characters that come to life through various objects. A hoody becomes thirteen year Omar, a boy who has lost all confidence in his own voice and wants to be invisible; we have Jack who comes to life when dancer Ryan aka LoGisTics puts a box on his head. The favourite and the cutest puppet of the show goes to Beat-box Boy – a 1980s beatbox attached to a toy’s body. There is real character and humour attached as well as an important message; for each of the puppets that are created there is attached a young persons story. These stories are told wonderfully by poet Elektric; some are sung but most are vocal.

There are many issues that are tackled head on in this 70 minute show, amongst them education, poverty and the struggle between being a teenager and an adult. However perhaps one of the toughest subjects handled is the story of Joanne and her memories of Chris, her mum’s boyfriend. This puppet is made entirely out of paper and for a while there are no words only the haunting vocals of Hobbit in the background, as we see her share her story with the audience.

Puppeteer Nouri, brings life to these wonderful characters and the audience are quickly charmed. There is clever use made of the space as the set is made entirely of cardboard boxes, again it just adds more creative and visual layers to this show that has helped to create a unique theatre experience.

A lot to pack in, yes, but it is done with such originality and creativity that it is easy to understand why this show has taken 18 months to come alive. It is sensitive, poignant and is very much in touch with young people. Written and directed by Keith Saha and Sue Buckmaster,The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective will touch the hearts of all that will go and see it with its beautiful storytelling told with passion and energy.

Janie Phillips