Street dance as theatre is a relatively young form, but it’s growing fast. One of its biggest recent hits was Pied Piper by Boy Blue Entertainment (choreographer Kenrick Sandy and musician Michael Asante), which was as sharply choreographed as it was targeted to its audience. Their new show, aptly named Over the Edge, sees them testing both their own limits and those of their audience – an admirable aim, but with results that fall between several stools.
The show begins with a witty morning episode: a breakfast table with bleary sleepy-heads rolling underneath, early risers snap-crackle-popping above. That’s followed by commuter travel, our cast of characters bopping on a train through east London. Moving swiftly on, one woman is talent-spotted and whisked off to the catwalks of New York and Paris, and another, “Lucy”, is teleported to a UFO where earthlings are possessed by supernatural forces and try to strangle each other.
This is confusing, but it becomes less so. Over the Edge is not a narrative, as it first appears, but a kind of magazine stuffed with different stories and styles. Some, like the alien abduction, are fantasy. Others are more like social commentary, such as the deftly choreographed waiting room set, in which a tramp careens among a motley assortment of urban types.
Elsewhere, there are hip happenings (a nightclub scene, also nattily orchestrated), and even a problem page (a woman in a mask, tormented by clutching hands). It’s sleekly produced and performed, but this magazine doesn’t hang together as a package: it’s too piecemeal and it neither dazzles its audience nor engages them emotionally.
Boy Blue deserve kudos for pushing the envelope – experimenting with the show format, and weaning the audience off the standard street dance diet of physical stunts and MTV-style choreography. That risk doesn’t quite pay off in Over the Edge; I suspect the real rewards of this sort of experimentation will come later down the line.