Presented as part of the Bristol Spring Poetry Festival 2013 (hosted by Bristol Poetry Can), The Rememberer’s constitutes a slice of Hip-Hop theatre laid across the backdrop of a dystopian graphic novel. Accompanied for the first time by a tech-savvy band comprising of an electronic drum kit and keyboards loaded with sound-distorting effects, teacher and lyricist Kenny Baraka invited the audience into the dark depths of his imagination. Owing much to neo-noir works such as Frank Miller’s ‘Sin City’ and Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’, this tale of a fallen future was highly creative in its translation from comic-book to stage.
Set among the barren ruins of a post-apocalyptic earth, an intriguing if slightly convoluted storyline narrated the journey of a lost wanderer – played by Baraka - who had become part of an underground survival movement known as The Council. This mysterious rebel group, headed by two enigmatic brothers, had been established in opposition to the all-powerful NorCon Corporation led by the omnipotent Don Marquis. With the planet completely dried up, presumably due to some devastating environmental disaster, the storyline followed the plight of a young girl caught between the two organisations as they searched desperately for the highly sought-after fresh water reserves known as Aqua Pura.
Whilst the innovative weaving of huge, projected comic-strips into the experience was commendably unique, the storyline and performance would have benefited from tighter direction as the evening swerved too vehemently through a myriad of sub-plots that became increasingly hard to follow. Technically, however, Baraka had a powerful and engaging presence that demanded attention as he moved through the fictitious realm of Norflyn that decorated the stage floor. Deftly switching between genres and costumes, Baraka’s mellifluous narration utilised an impressive combination of speech, song and rap to spin the elaborate tale to its climatic conclusion. With its multi-media visual impact and a booming musical accompaniment courtesy of Drew Horley and Professor D, this Hip-Hop performance impressed in many respects although ultimately suffered from its lofty ambition. Closing a great week of poetical events across the city, The Rememberer’s should be congratulated for thinking outside the box as whilst perhaps underwhelming in substance, it stands alone in its originality.