Review: Sting Soundtracking A Refugee Hip Hop Drama? It Shouldn't Work But It Does

Message In A Bottle, Peacock Theatre ★★★★★

Review: Sting Soundtracking A Refugee Hip Hop Drama? It Shouldn't Work But It Does Message In A Bottle, Peacock Theatre 5
Kate Prince's company, this delivers an epic experience. © Lynn Theisen

Using the music of dinner party favourite Sting to soundtrack a hip hop dance-based refugee drama? It’s a crazy idea but, in the hands of choreographer Kate Prince's company, this delivers an epic experience.

Message In A Bottle tells the story of a family torn from their home country by war; their journey across sea and land and through immigration camps is played out to classic songs such as Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Every Breath You Take, Englishman In New York and karaoke perennial Roxanne.

Using renowned tracks by an acclaimed artist to add oomph to a drama is usually either disastrous or marvellous. Here it is definitely the latter, partially thanks to the thoughtful and classy adaptations. In one scene, we see female prisoners being molested by male guards to the sound of Don't Stand So Close To Me; in this version, Sting sings the verses while Claudia Georgette handles the familiar chorus.

The large crew bring in bucketloads of funky and fresh feeling. © Lynn Theisen

Sting hands the mic to other singers too. Beverley Knight's uplifting interpretation of Fields of Gold is especially glorious. Other songs are updated to give them new and resounding nuance.

The dancing itself is in no way playing second fiddle to the marquee musician. The large crew bring in bucketloads of the funky and fresh feeling and physical pyrotechnics that Prince infused into her previous winners like Into The Hoods and The Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Whether it is a joyous party or an emotional reunion, they bring every scene to vivid life through a series of dazzling and evocative set pieces.

Come for the music, stay for a brave and spectacular show with serious emotional heft amid the jaw-dropping moves.

Message In A Bottle, Peacock Theatre, until October 17, from £18

Last Updated 01 October 2021