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What The Funk? Fringe 2016

Greenside @ Nicholson Square Theatre

Edinburgh Festival Fringe August 11th 2016

Just how much information, visuals, music and a good time can you have in just forty very short minutes? Well quite a lot actually. This production, put on by Kingdom Theatre Company, promised to take us on a guided tour of the world of Funk from its early beginnings up to today. A very tall order to deliver but deliver they did. From the opening strains of the glorious Hammond organ with the still fresh sounds of Booker T Jones melodies underpinned by Donald Duck Dunn’s bass and Steve Cropper’s guitar licks tonight’s house band, Lights Out By Nine, blasted through an onslaught of fabulous tunes covering as many classic Soul and Funk tracks as possible. Each wonderful tune was followed by narration guiding us along through five and a half decades of the history of this Sweet Soul Music where it would normally be impossible to keep from dancing. Now it has to be said that in no way was this your typical gig and in fact it was not really a gig at all. It was a seated intimate theatre show and, in the limited time available, the ground that was covered was extensive. So cramming in detail on James Brown, Arthur Connelly, The MG’s, Motown, Philadelphia (TSOP), Sly & The Family Stone, Average White Band, Prince, Barry White, George Clinton & Parliament, Mark Ronson etc was always going to result in just a skimming of the surface all back dropped by terrific silent film clips from the era. But do you know what? That didn’t matter at all. Could it be improved? For sure yes. It was clear watching the audience that they were just itching to be involved. A very few ventured out on to the floor to bop along at one point. So if this production gets another run, and I hope it does, don’t put the audience in the seats (which have to be there for other shows as the space, in common with all Fringe productions is shared) have them on the floor right there in front of the band. The narrator could still move around within the audience. This music was made to dance to so have your audience dump their stuff on the seats by all means but make it interactive. If this simple change was introduced then the attendees and cast would come away having had an even higher experience and for forty short minutes they could go on a musical odyssey and Dance To The Music.

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