Hip-Hop From The Heart In No Milk For The Foxes

By Stuart Black Last edited 37 months ago
Hip-Hop From The Heart In No Milk For The Foxes ★★★★☆ 4

Photo by Joyce Nicholls.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Not much happens in No Milk For The Foxes, but then again that’s pretty much what life is like for security guards Mark and Sparx, as they try to stay awake through the night shift in their dreary Croydon office. They count the time in clicks of a retractable pen, winding each other up affectionately before every so often breaking the boredom with some impromptu yet extremely skillful beatboxing.

The guards are played by the show’s co-creators Conrad Murray and Paul Cree, who together make up Beats&Elements. And though their specialism is cleverly layered a capella music, they prove to be a winning double act well before they start rapping.

This thoroughly entertaining new show at the Camden People’s Theatre is funny, real and — by the end — surprisingly moving as it depicts exactly what it feels like to be saddled with a dead end job on a zero hours contract. The four black walls of the nicely-considered set indicate not only the Croydon night beyond but also an encroaching netherworld of debt and responsibility. It makes perfect sense that Mark and Sparx would feel the need to animate such a bleak existence with their own music — they'd probably go mad otherwise. The lyrics in the raps are persuasively smart and the beatboxing infectious enough that, whenever it stops, the audience is left mid-head-bob, dumped back down in the empty office silence.

The use of these awkward pauses helps evoke the real life situation of people like Mark and Sparx and also demonstrates the confidence of the performers. Beats&Elements have developed their approach to hip-hop inspired theatre with both CPT and the Battersea Arts Centre and it shows: the work here is mature and relevant, with an impressive amount of soul.

No Milk For The Foxes runs at Camden People's Theatre until 9 May as part of its The State We're In season of political work to coincide with the election.

Last Updated 23 April 2015