– reviewed by Jessica Holliland –
Back in July, I had the pleasure of heading along to Plymouth’s Theatre Royal to see spoken word artist Alexander Rhodes in his one man show, One foot in the Rave. Since then, the show has gone on to be a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, with great testimonials from poets like Attila the Stockbroker and Rosy Carrick (editor: lateness of this review is entirely my doing, not Jessica’s).
On arrival, a busy but quietly attentive room of voyeurs face a simple set. A dance beat hums quietly in the background and a lone figure dances alone as he swigs from his bottle of water.
So, what is One Foot in the Rave about?
One Foot in the Rave is a powerful retelling of one man’s journey through trauma, joy, indulgence, loss and discovery. Alexander Rhodes revisits the damage done by religious indoctrination in his childhood and takes us with him as he relives his struggle to find himself in the drug-fuelled chaos of the 1990’s.
His telling is earnest and heartfelt with no airs and graces – there’s a deep openness not unlike that of a clubber enjoying the carefree lightness of a chemical high. This open delivery made it easy to relate to the pit stops of realisation and loss, as I followed him through his tale filled with adversity and chaos. But within the dark bones of the story he created neon-bright highlights of humour and hope; reminding us of friendships that we forged in our youth and giving us a brief glimpse of glory days illuminated by strobe lighting and filled with potential.
Future audiences be aware: this isn’t a tidy tale with a beginning, middle and end. This is a window into a life that culminates before there can be a tidy resolution. Alexander ends the show on the stage in front of us still waiting to hear the end himself. There’s an unspoken invitation in that non-ending, an offer to make our own contribution to his story. And a suggestion that we could share our own as we grow and an offer of acceptance to whatever that may look like.
What is there to rave about?
Spoken word performance can be a tricky ground to navigate but Rhodes navigates it with the ease of a well-practiced storyteller. He weaves the facts with the feelings and carries it all with subtly melodic flow punctuated with passionate outbursts. This melody combines with clever lighting, a few select props, and musical interludes to furnish the story and carry the audience along with him as the years fall away.
Sound like your cup of glowsticks? Catch the show at the Wolverhampton Fringe from 1st Feb and the Visionari Festival at York Theatre Royal on the 8th February. The tour then continues on to Cornwall, Nottingham, Norwich, Margate and finishing with 4 dates in London.