Review: ORALTORIO A Theatrical Mixtape

by Lynn on October 7, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Ont.

Written and performed by Motion

Music and performed by DJ L’Oqenz

Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu

Set, costumes and props by Jackie Chau

Lighting by André du Toit

Projections by Laura Warren

Composer and sound design, L’Oqenz

Sound by Thomas Ryder Payne

Beautifully intricate and stylish.

 The Story. ORALTORIO: A Theatrical Mixtape  is a combination spoken work, music and various performances styles focuses on and celebrates the voices of  black women and their experiences through history.

The Production and Comment. It’s created by Motion and DJ L’Oqenz. Motion wrote the poetry/lyrics and performs them in the styles of rap, hip hop, R & B etc. music. DJ L’Oqenz wrote the music and performs as well by creating beats, rhythms, sounds, distortions of sounds and other intriguing bits to the piece by using a turn-table to “scratch’ records and by using a computer.

Thomas Ryder Payne designed the sounds that are not music based. So we hear the lapping of water against a boat, hear the moaning of people, a crack of a whip against skin and immediately we are hearing the plight of people who are slaves being shipped and whipped to another country. Motion stands with her arms out straight and with the sound of a crack of a whip an arm drops then the other.  Very powerful.

DJ L’Oqenz creates the beat of drums that the slaves used to communicate.  That then segues into other beats.

It’s beautifully intricate and stylishly directed by Mumbi Tindeybwa Out. Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape is an oral history in music and poetry of the black experience, focusing on women.

At the beginning of the show, both women are listening carefully to their respective boom-boxes concentrating on twirling the dial to find the music they want to hear. They dial through Bryan Adams, comfortable melodies and then land on CIUT of all stations where they hear music they are desperate to hear but can’t find on regular radio stations. It’s a revelation and gets them both involved.

Motion’s poetry is complex, perceptive, angry, full of throbbing beats that just compel you to listen harder. The piece goes from slavery through time to the establishment of women in rock music, to the petty jealousies and serious consequences.

We are warned that the sound is loud.  It’s no louder than it has to be and the sound is beautifully balanced. Generally each lyric is clear and crisp. If there is a problem it’s that at times the delivery is so quick I missed some of what Motion was saying. I would love a list of the poems and the words in full. Also, some projections (Laura Warren) that are important for the story, appear blurry on the back wall.

Motion is a perfect name because she always is in motion dancing to the various types of music that DJ L’Oqenz has written. As animated as Motion is, that’s as laid-back as DJ L’Oqenz is. She’s cool with sass.

They make a perfect performing duo, playing off each other. It’s a terrific, poetic, angry, pointed piece of theatre.

Heed the beat and see it.

Obsidian Theatre Company presents:

Opened: Oct. 4, 2018.

Closes: Oct. 20, 2018.

Running Time: 75 minutes.


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