Seeing Boxed, I expected there to be speech, but I didn't hear any dialogue. Shlomo
and his amazing vocal orchestra flipped the script!
Boxed tells the story of Lonely Joe, a shy guy who can only communicate through beatboxing.
Upon meeting charismatic Afro, he’s show he’s not the only one, and there's nothing
to worry about.
In saying “flipped the script,” all interaction between the characters is done through
beatboxing. The good guys beatbox upbeat rhythms, the bad guys use a selection of
downbeat sounds and genres, often threatening dubstep. The rest is up to the viewer
How all of the beatbox conversations were all scripted and seamlessly executed leaves
you in wonderment - it must have taken hours of patience-testing rehearsals to get
it exactly right.
Boxed feels a little slow to start off as it gets into the story and sets the scene.
The stage has no props present, instead using a projection screen.
Not that the story should be focused on: the selling point of Boxed is its physical
aspect, such as arranging the characters as different sounds in a drum kit before
thrashing out a beat on their heads with an imaginary pair of drumsticks. That, and
there's plenty humour to keep things moving.
The cast are all capable of beatboxing, but they are also accomplished vocalists,
of a professional and operatic standard. When the group travels to the 1990s and
sing a cover of I'm A Believer, the similarity between the actual track and their
beatboxing was astounding.
There’s also a scene where the action take a turn for the worse, and it’s accompanied
by an operatic score that was so close to something from a film that it was moving
enough to give you goosebumps!
The second half of the show, when the characters time travel, is when the excitement
picks up, with songs from the 60s,70s 80s and 90s. All of the songs are so well orchestrated
you recognise them in an instant, and although the audience was a little dead/suprised/confused
on the opening night of Boxed, there’s a lot for all ages to enjoy and clap along
to in future shows.
It’s funny, it’s easy to understand, and the non-speaking approach is a credit as
to one of the many ways beatboxing can be used to communicate with an audience.
Beatboxing + dancing
It’s worth mentioning that the choreographic talent of Simeon Qsyea was drafted in
as the show’s movement director. Watching on the opening night of the show, he was
responsible for placing the characters during the musical numbers.
Not strictly speaking choreography (some of the singers looked like they were having
so much fun performing that they would never have taken much notice of steps), it
gave the show a tidy feel with stage traffic, and presented the songs and dance routines
suitably to their style.
Boxed cast list
Shlomo – Lonely Joe
Ben Francis – Afro
Nelly Elessa, Claudia Georgette and Johannah Jolson – The Misfits
Billy Boothroyd, Testament and Robin Bailey – The Cronies