"Drumming has never been cooler"
by Andy Bramfitt on 09/10/11

Ethan Lewis Maltby's DrumChasers is unlike any other show I have ever seen; a mesmerising blend of unbelievable drumming coupled with beautiful dancing all set to a futuristic tale of power, rivalry and love. Actually, to say its all drumming is doing a grave dis-service to the whole percussion experience including some truly beautiful glokenspiel melodies. This is story-telling-without-words at its best and it had me hooked from the first beat to the very last.

Georgina King's choreography is wonderfully synchronised, evocotive and yet simple, but it's not until you really watch the stage that you realise that it's no mean feat to match expressive dance with demanding drumming & exacting rhythms.

Make no mistake, this is not a show of 10 drummers simply stood on stage; each character has their own story, their own personality which they bring to the fore through genuine acting (there is no dialogue at all which makes the story telling even more engaging) and very quickly you understand the premise of the show, even before Stephen Fry's narration of the Noiseland Tale (written by Jenna Donnelly) comes in about half way through act 1.

The story, without wanting to give too much away, is about a race of people, the Drumchasers from Noiseland, who, through the loss of a worshipped relic become fractured and warring. This relic finds it's way to earth and is discovered by Mr Bennet, a stage caretaker (played wonderfully by somebody's grandad - actually its none other than Mr Jack Warner). His unwitting discovery prompts the Drumchasers and their guardian peacekeeper Weckl (deliciously played by the vampish Rachel Stock) to come to earth and continue their rivalry. This is done through what I can only describe as battle drumming, a sort of dance off using percussion.

Through all of this we are treated to the impish mischief of Gene (played by Amy Kelly), the macho posturing of Blades & Vinnie (James Hulme & James Godfrey) and an age old story of two lovers from the opposite sides. Playing out like a futuristic West Side Story, Buddy (a very dishy Simon Morgan-Thomas, according to my daughter) and Eve (a very cute Stephanie Clarke) try to unite the two sides but as with all torn-lovers tales, it is far from easy.

As the story works towards its conclusion the beats become more frantic, the surprises get bigger and the choreography even more impressive (there's a great scene set in almost complete darkness - honest, believe me!). I won't spoil things by telling you the rest of the show, 'cept to say that you should really seek out this production, take the family and go lose yourself in the rhythm.

At the end, once the final curtain came down, there was a quiet sense of awe in the audience, almost like a collective reasoning, like we had shared a moment. We probably had as no-one truly knew what to expect, yet everyone agreed it was awesome.

There have been some iconic shows which define or even create their own genres; Riverdance, Cirque de Soliel, The Mousetrap, We Will Rock You - I believe that we have seen another tonight which could do the same - it truly is that special that I urge anyone to treat themselves and go and see it.


Added 8/10

Just back from watching the DrumChasers at Durham Gala, a fabulous venue and perfect for this show, the acoustics were spot on and the view (we were sat at the back of the stalls) meant we could truly appreciate the wonderful precision playing, especially the 2 James on the miramba.

Its funny how much more you see when you watch a show again; I guess the first time I was quite unprepared for it all, whereas this time I could really take it in - I hadn't been aware of how much was going on on the gantry at the back, especially with Weckl. Word of Warning - I honestly believe that following Rachel Stock's hips could give you whiplash !

Anyway, the show is on a break now, but is back touring towards the end of October so check out their web site for details.

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