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Lyrix Organix: Emergence
Published on Wednesday, 02 June 2010

The terms “eclectic” and “collective” are used so often in these festival circles that they lose their power, but I can think of none more fitting to describe the set-up of Lyrix Organix.  They describe it as improv-hip-hop-theatre (hyphens my own). Perhaps, then, a career as a reviewer is not for me; but don't hold this against such a fantastically diverse, vibrant, intelligent troupe.

The show began (this time at least – it's hard to guess how consistent the running order might be) with Indian tabla drumming, as Sarah Sayeed in traditional Indian dress switched smoothly between traditional Indian style melodies and inner-London-accented, youth-focused rapping.  This juxtaposition of styles was a hallmark of the event and the shape of things to come.

This beautiful young Indian girl was followed by Irish stand-up comic Rob Broderick, proudly self-billed as the "7th best rapper in Ireland"… although he was quick to add that there are only nine in total.  Here began the improvised part of the show, with the audience instructed to hold up an unusual item from their handbag or wherever.  As Broderick weaved through the crowd, he rapped out a witty, rhymed, off-the-cuff verse about each.

From then on, large parts of the show were improvised, as artists joined and left the stage repeatedly.  The line-up included talented musicians (such as Ed Sheeran) as well as multiple-role-playing slam-poet champion poet Maxwell Golden, whose phenomenal skill clearly deserves its own show.  I feel they all do, given their talent, though I don't know how different they'd be without the glorious banter that emerges as they bounce off one another from improvised verse to verse.

Watching as they grappled and contorted themselves and their language, trying to make things rhyme, really was delicious; the sensation that it could all go horribly wrong at any moment (but somehow didn't) seemed miraculous, and quickly drew the whole audience in.  I was enthralled.  Its only shortcoming was that it was all over too quickly, which is perhaps due to the high intensity of such performance, as well as my keen enjoyment.  Since we knew in advance that the line-up shifts for each run, and we were witnessing first-hand the unmistakably real improvisation, the show really felt truly special and unique.

Oh, and did I mention that they do all this for charity? Lyrix Organix perform again in Islington on June 9th.  I implore you to attend if you can.  See for details.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.