an incredible and mystical journey
The Young Vic
On their way to a feast, three sisters are separated at a crossroads by a trickster. To be reunited, they must undertake an incredible and mystical journey from 18th century Nigeria to Brazil, Cuba, the US and the UK in 2013.
Vibrant music, dazzling dance and featuring a stunning company including Olivier Award winner Noma Dumezweni, Young Vic regular Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, drummer Sola Akingbola of Jamiroquai and world renowned dancers, Feast was a celebration of the world’s most spirited culture. 59 Director Lysander Ashton designed the projection that played across the Young Vic’s stage, described by The Independent “as ravishingly fluid and eloquent”, and giving the scenography a new sense of colour and life.
The injunction to be unafraid to embrace the chaos of life is one of fortifying principles of Yoruban culture. It’s a philosophy that director Rufus Norris and his team seem to have taken to heart in a big way in the devising of Feast, a bold and exhilarating show in which five playwrights from as many countries tell the story of the diaspora of the Yoruba people through a miraculous melding of music (everything from a fusion of spirituals and Catholic hymns to salsa and soul), joyously sinuous, metamorphic dance (choreographed by George Cespedes) and Lysander Ashton’s ravishingly fluid and eloquent video projections (which at one point swarm with original slave-trade documents).
What holds the evening together is the staggering, kaleidoscopic vivacity of Rufus Norris’s production, and the vitality of the performances. Videos projected on to Katrina Lindsay’s mobile string curtain whisk us from continent to continent with memorable fluidity. Noma Dumezweni, Michelle Asante and Naana Agyei-Ampadu endow the three sisters with exactly the right blend of the physical and the spiritual. Alexander Varona is sensational as the dancing trickster too, at one point leaping from the ground on to a table with nonchalant ease. At the end, the audience went wild; and, even though I think the case for omnipresent Yoruban values is only half-proven, no one could deny the show packs a sensuous punch.
Where the show excels is in blending music, movement and image to express the shifting and sustaining power of belief. In one deeply moving sequence the cast process slowly, singing, as Lysander Ashton’s projections play over them, depicting a diagram of a slave ship. We hear the musical links between that tune and the freedom song sung by Civil Rights protesters in a later scene. Such stunning scenes, powerfully delivered by the astonishingly versatile cast, best embody the uplifting spirit of both the culture and the show.
The Financial Times