Rhythm at Work, Norwich

Think Riverdance on scaffolding, think Tap Dogs on dustbin lids and you go some way to imagining the experience of the new percussion and dance sensation Raw! which had its British premiere last night at the Norwich Theatre Royal.

By JOHN LAWSON

Think Riverdance on scaffolding, think Tap Dogs on dustbin lids and you go some way to imagining the experience of the new percussion and dance sensation Raw! – Rhythm at Work – which had its British premiere last night at the Norwich Theatre Royal.

And on the night England went top of the World Cup qualifying table in the week that national pride was given a massive boost in Munich, we can celebrate again with this show.

Not Irish like Riverdance, not Australian like Tap Dogs – this is home-grown genius. From Nottingham no less.


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It was inevitable really: show creators and choreographers, brother and sister Scott and Michelle Peters, are the offspring of a drummer and a dancer.

As youngsters, they danced and drummed out rhythms on the furniture around the family home and dreamed of combining their parents' talents.

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Raw! is the embodiment of that dream – and is set to be the must-see stage event of the year.

From the first beats on a collection of upturned dustbins, the 10-strong cast – six drummers and four dancers – had the audience in the palms of fast-moving hands.

Actually it's unfair to draw demarcation lines between percussionists and dancers – that was how they were auditioned, but the dancers can beat out a rhythm with the best of them and the drummers can turn nimble pairs of feet.

Everything that wasn't nailed down – and quite a number of things that were – became percussion instruments: plastic piping, lengths of rope, hard hats, their own bodies … all were brought into play.

And so was the audience, finding out just how incredibly hard it is to keep a beat-sequence going and realising the incredible level of skill on display before them.

Watch out for scrubbing brush and water-bottle sequences – both are a miracle of lateral thinking and innovation.

John Paul Braddock's sound engineering ensured that the tiniest tap through to the most booming bass entered the audience's consciousness, and Steve Ellerington's lighting was percussively energising in itself.

The two-hour show flashed by all too quickly and earned the talented 10-some a standing ovation – and surely the certainty of sell-out houses for the rest of their Norwich run and throughout this three-month tour.

Rush to buy your ticket today and be able to say you were one of the first to join the fan club.

t Raw continues until Saturday September 8. Box office: 01603 630000.

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