dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Heaven and Hell all in one day
The Legend of Mike Smith is a new venture for Birmingham-based musician Soweto Kinch.
Staged at the city's new Studio space, which is shared by Birmingham REP and the new Library, it is a lively staging of his latest album.
Taking inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins and Dante's Inferno, The Legend of Mike Smith is a whirlwind production mixing narrative, dance, rap, comedy, music and projection. It's packed full of social and political comment as well as being a meditation on human nature.
It centres around budding MC Mike Smith, who is offered temptation in the shape of a recording deal which could bring him fame and riches, but at a price to his soul.
In one wild day, Mike experiences all of the Seven Deadly Sins, entering both his own Heaven and his own Hell, before he realises where true freedom lies.
It is a whirlwind of musical and theatrical experience as images collide, ideas pop and fizz and the audience is bombarded with sound, image and movement.
And in places it makes for uncomfortable viewing, not least when performers Ricardo da Silva, Tyrone Isaac-Stuart and Soweto take the audience on, goading us to think again about our own preconceptions and diving in to turn the spotlight on us.
There is so much going on in this 100-minute performance that I am sure I could watch it all again and come away with quite a different theatrical experience the second time around.
Kinch's lyrics are spot on with bang-up-to-date references to just about everything under the sun from media moguls to subprime mortgages, and Twitter to trainers. But there were times when they were too fast for me to catch, leaving me feeling I need to read a lyric sheet to fully grasp the nettle.
There is little doubt of Soweto's talent as a musician on saxophone and as a lyricist and rapper and this new performance of his music shows how much more can be done with an album when you add in staging and a lot of imagination.
The Legend of Mike Smith by Soweto Kinch plays Birmingham REP until 28 September. Contact 0121 236 4455 or the Birmingham REP website for tickets.