Bangers is a fantastic, immersive piece that uses music as the backdrop, to engage the audience with the story.

© Toyin Dawudu

Bangers written by Danusia Samal and directed by Chris Sonnex, follows the ups and downs of two characters as they navigate through their past and contemplate what their future holds. Their stories include falling in love, discovering their sexuality, and reigniting their creative spark. Throughout the captivating storytelling, the DJ continually plays music and shares words of wisdom for Aria (Danusia Samal) and Clef (Darragh Hand).

Walking up the stairs and into the Soho Theatre, the first thing you notice is that the stage has been transformed into a club setting. The DJ, played by Duramaney Kamara, stands behind a decorated block of decks, playing an impressive selection of R&B, hip hop and afro beats. The DJ spoke with the crowd, giving shout-outs to everyone who walked into the theatre. As the DJ introduces the headliners, Aria and Clef, the lights go down and all three characters break into an energetic, synchronised performance to an infamous Lethal Bizzle track. 

Bangers is a fantastic, immersive piece that uses music as the backdrop, to engage the audience with the story. I liked how the cast acknowledged the audience, encouraging us to get involved by clapping and chanting along. We are introduced to Aria and Clef in separate storylines that are gradually tied together at a club night, where these two strangers have more in common than they think. Aria is unassuming, guarded and struggles to regain power. Clef is the idealistic teenager, passionate about music but still finding himself. 

© Toyin Dawudu

Samal and Hand give incredible performances when transforming into the supporting characters. Samal perfectly embodies Tone as the enthusiastic, slightly jarring best friend of Clef, whilst Hand had the audience in stitches for their portrayal of sassy, men-loathing (yet marrying one!) best friend, Bex. Hand has such joyous energy that instantly captures the audience’s attention.

Every scene change is signified as a track listing, with each ‘track’ telling an additional part of Aria and Clef’s journey. Being the musical narrator, the DJ was naturally funny and has great comedic timing and chemistry with Aria and Clef. 

The play is just under 80 minutes long yet manages to delve deep and explore the characters. The script is clever, with most scenes written with rhyme and lyrics, wonderfully performed by the cast. As the story goes on, the emotional complexities which Aria and Clef go through are revealed. Clef faces the dilemma of choosing between education and music, as well as dealing with his personal relationships. We also discover why Aria’s passion for music ceased and why she was hiding her true self in her relationships. I was in awe of Samal’s performance, not only for their amazing vocals but also for their ability to showcase the vulnerable side of Aria.

Although the props are limited, I enjoyed the attention to detail. This included a set of blocks covered in stickers and graffiti art that displayed a collection of powerful messages on varying socio-political issues faced in the UK. Microphones, a disco ball, and glow in the dark sunglasses all added to the themes of this music play. 

Soho Theatre and Cardboard Citizens co-produced ‘Bangers’, it runs for three weeks until the 2nd of July. The play, is set in an urban London, featuring classic UK garage tunes that are instantly recognised. There are also original tracks from Duramaney Kamara, Danusia Samal and Chris Sonnex, heavily inspired by early noughties and present-day R&B and brilliantly performed by the main characters. I loved the themes, the character transformations, the sense of nostalgia and creativity during ‘Bangers’, and most of all, the music.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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