Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape had me wanting to dance from the second I sat in my seat, and left me wanting to come back and tune in to Motion and DJ L’Oqenz over and over again.
Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa and produced by MotionLive Collective, the RISER Project presents the world premiere of this energetic story of the BGirl and the DJ in a multidisciplinary mix of music, spoken word and theatre.
A true mixtape in its execution, Motion’s clever wordplay and infectiously fun performance will take you on a musical journey throughout history, grappling with past and present realties black women face in society all while grooving with the evolution of music. It follows the stories of these two women and comments on how the voices of women have been silenced, and found again, through music.
“Tell them we’re coming,” Motion loudly proclaims to the audience; and indeed, you need to know these two talented women are coming your way. Channeling the personas of BGirls to blues women and everything in between, Motion and L’Oqenz preform masterfully and with an honesty that makes their performance personal and moving.
Due to the fast-paced nature of Motion’s writing, I often found myself struggling to catch every word of the text. Needless to say, her expressive movements and chameleon-like skill as an actor never left me unentertained. The personalization of the script shines through in Motion’s impressive performance as she takes on the roles of various people to tell her story.
L’Oqenz mixes all of the music for the show on stage as she performs alongside Motion’s spoken word and songs. Although she doesn’t say much throughout the show, her strong stage presence and her talent speak volumes.
The two artists present Oraltorio as a radio show – one that tells the story of their culture and music dating back long before they were born to a produce a mix of sounds ranging from the ancient talking drum to modern Trap and hip-hop.
With that said, the show is certainly filled with countless moments that get you wrapped up in the music and the artists’ comedic flair. However, this is nicely balanced with grounded moments that highlight the political undertones of the show, touching on themes of racism, the silencing of women’s voices, and identity.
Having Motion’s lively, energetic, and happy character displayed in front of images featuring blackface or police brutality created a juxtaposition that worked well in challenging audiences to think critically about the show.
This piece has so much volition based on the performative elements alone – so much so, that Motion and L’Oqenz make everyone in the room want to get up join in on the action.
The true theatricality of the show lies with the innovative production elements used to transform the space. With such a simple set of only a few white boxes and hanging sections as a backdrop, the lighting (designed by Andre du Toit) and video projections (designed by Ramon Charles) easily transport audiences into the world of the show and create an impressive stage picture that is both compelling and complementary to the overall production.
The use of this multimedia collage of sound and visual design artfully creates an ever-changing set that gels seamlessly with the constant evolution of the show’s tone. The projections and lighting are so impressively done, that this show is worth seeing based on the production value alone.
Oraltorio is running until May 12 at the Theatre Centre. For more information, visit www.theatrecentre.org.