There are numerous interactive experiences on the Fringe, but few which immerse so many as infectiously as Drumstruck. With a compact African drum – or djembe, if you want to get all drumming clinic about it – placed on every seat in the auditorium, this South African production is a show you can literally bang the drum for. Itching to get involved, however a rhythmically, excitable audience members are practicing their paradiddles before the show has begun. Those with drumming skills even show off a little.
The stage show, meanwhile employs a loose narrative about the spirit of Ubuntu (translation mutual respect leading to desire to all play drums together) as embodied by the Ubuntu Queen, our perma-smiling leader who directs her army of amateurs with a point of the finger, the stamp of a foot, even the wiggle of a hip.
The audience are mainly involved in call-and-response routines, but there is also a fleeting opportunity for drumming lesion. Soon enough, you may find yourself watching the positioning of the troupe’s hands and copying their style. Or you may just want to bash away like a kid with a biscuit tin. The performers, dressed like tribal cheerleaders, generously encourage our racket there is, it must be said a certain power in our numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the professionals are bang on with their timing demonstrating rhythm in so many simple ways, including clapping hands, clicking fingers and lusty a capella incantations. Always favouring the communal experience over particularly flashy displays, they nevertheless impress with the dexterity of a traditional South African gumboot dance in which they slap the sides of their boots, and a Taiko-style routine on floor toms, congas and djembe, with sticks flailing in sync.
The audience drum the appreciation. Drum Struck is ideal entertainment for families, with kids particularly favoured when the group need extra pairs of hands on the stage, while the adults can enjoy a cathartic workout. An hour passes in no time. The jungle drums say this is a show well worth making a noise about.
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