We came across Dead Awaken performing on a Virgin Money stage on the Royal Mile. We stopped to watch and were handed a flyer. The snippet we previewed was rap, but it was hard to hear over the bustle of the crowds and with little to go on on the flyer, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
Dead Awaken is a highly stylistic combination of spoken word and music. It has a small cast of four, two men and two women. The story is that of a famous artist (Preston Butler III), who since the creation of his magnum opus has become tortured and his marriage grown stale. He and his wife (Kristin Tripe) find themselves visiting the mountains to seek freedom from their tedium, where the artist’s past muse (Jasmine Gatewood) entrances him once more.
The most striking feature is the purposeful use of wired microphones on stands throughout, not just as conventional voice enhancers, but as symbolic props.
The language used in the spoken word is archaic and poetic, precise and rhythmic. The performers strike a very watchable balance between natural and rehearsed, the cadence of the words never stunting the flow of the story.
Whilst most of the musical segments were sung with a soulful style, occasionally elements of trap and hiphop cut through, reflecting the mood of each moment.
All four performers have faultless voices, and the microphone levels were mixed such that no one overpowered the other.
Dead Awaken was not what I was expecting, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and the best chance I’ve ever taken on a flyer.