503Fusion is a collection of four short plays; entitled Night, Morning, Afternoon and Night II – but don’t let the unimaginative titles throw you, because this festival of spoken word presents some powerful storytelling, which mixes sound and voice to explore the chaotic realities of living within the city.
The plays – Night by Karis Halsall, Afternoon by Tommy Sissions, Morning by Gemma Rogers, and Night II by Deanna Rodger – explore themes of obsession, inner city poverty and heartache. The strength of these short stories lies in the ability of each performer to evoke life within the city – using their lyrical abilities like a brush on canvas, painting a vibrant picture of the dark streets, nightclubs and troubled neighbourhoods.
The ninety minute show has an open-mic feel, with each performer standing before the intimate audience at Theatre 503 and laying themselves bare in a series of personal monologues. The mixture of poetry, ‘boxfresh’ spoken word and musical accompaniment keeps each piece fresh, but there are occasions when the segments feel slightly indulgent; at times less would be preferable to the more on offer, but when the words are flowing and the music is playing it’s easy to forgive the show it’s more angst ridden moments.
Special mention must be given to Gemma Rogers for her confident and charming urban fable about a woman making the move from Eastbourne to Croydon. It was this performance that presented the most successful fusion of music and narrative; in what could be described as a mini-folk-musical that lightened the tone in what is an otherwise sombre atmosphere.
The mini plays offer some challenging subject matter, and a dynamic range of styles that provide more than a few pauses for thought. But If spoken word and poetry aren’t your thing then 503Fusion probably isn’t for you. That said, the talent on show should not be overlooked lightly, and it is with growing interest that this reviewer will continue seeking out the spoken word.
503Fusion plays at Theatre 503, The Latchmere, from Thursday 15th – Saturday 17th January