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Review: Jonzi D Productions: Markus the Sadist

Bloomsbury Theatre, 18th October Returning 17-20 May - Buy tickets

“A rap opera”

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Words: David Barros

 

[Jump to trailer]

Jonzi D Productions' Markus the Sadist, featuring Bashy

Markus Wright is a talented 19 year old rapper with a big future ahead of him. Son of a churchgoing mother and winner of the local Battle Scars rap freestyle competition, he's a master of intelligent and witty rhymes. Approached by the slick Top Blizzy and his beautiful girlfriend Syreena Dream after the competition, he's offered the chance to get signed to a record label and make it big. And so his transformation begins.

 

Re-packaged, re-sold, redundant

Markus is reborn as the hugely marketed Markus the Sadist, cursing, bragging about his wealth, and threatening to stick his gun where the sun doesn't shine. Complete with phat trainers, wearing sunglasses even when it's not sunny and typical gangsta bling, Markus becomes a parody of what mainstream audiences want from hip hop these days.

 

There are plenty of digs at mainstream wackness and celebrity culture, starting with Markus speaking in an American accent ("Yee-uh!") to the news reporter documenting his every moment.

 

Persuaded by Blizzy to sign more lucrative contracts, Markus has to wear the wackest trainers, but what's wearing wack trainers when you're getting paid thousands to wear them? Without reading the small print the trainer company plays their jingle when he's performing his songs! It's a bit too much for Markus, but by then it's too late, and his image begins to fall away when he realises he doesn’t like his false persona.

Bashy in Markus the SadistA rap opera

Markus the Sadist is billed as "a rap opera," and in many a way it is.

 

Soweto Kinch's contribution as composer and musical director bring something fresh to the soundtrack, and several full length tracks give it a rap 'operatic' (a loose term) vibe.

 

They aren't typical songs either, but full compositions that compare to musical theatre, as characters from Markus' past haunt him through song.

 

Markus's mum is the musical exception. She doesn't rap, but sings, adding an additional layer to the musical numbers.

 

Most of the script rhymes, and it's spoken with poetic energy, if not a little difficult sometimes for some to decipher the occasional Caribbean patois within.

 

Some of the freestyles are so recent that they’re different for each show, as Markus dropped a line about Leona Lewis getting punched - it was only a week ago!

 

A trait of Jonzi D is he acknowledges the audience, and he recognises the use of the convention where the audience is part of Markus’s live shows, getting his crowd to shout back at the MC.

Projection

The set featured a projection canvas and live video camera to display some scenes as though they were in a different location, and it was quite effective when doing paparazzi news reports and when Markus is shooting his music video.

 

They also used the projection for pre-recorded video shorts of mock news reports, with Jonzi D making the occasional cameo as multiple ludicrous supporting characters. It was just a shame it was a little to bright in the theatre to see some of the playbacks clearly.

 

Markus the Sadist: a difficult choice

 

Markus the Sadist was good. It wasn't what I expected, the storyline went deeper than I thought it might in places, and maybe some of the scenarios were a bit unrealistic - hacking a prison computer? Hmm - but it kept it real, and spoke out against what others are afraid to say - mainstream hip hop is generally wack!

 

You need to make sure to listen up, though. Some character’s dialogue particularly slang heavy, and if you’re not fluent in street talk, you might get left behind figuring what they’re saying.

 

I'd never seen Bashy act on stage before, but he was a natural being a Brit Performing Arts graduate (read our interview with him here), supported by a strong cast from different performing backgrounds, which included comedians and dancers playing several different characters.

 

It's just a shame it isn't a longer running production, as only a small amount of people will be able to see it. It preaches social awareness about delusional mainstream hip hop without being preachy, and is an example of a show that once it’s gone, you’ll regret not seeing.

 

The Markus the Sadist tour continues in Birmingham on 22-24, Leeds on 26 and and Ipswich on 30-31.

View the Markus the Sadist trailer below:

 

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This feature is a review of an earlier article:

We’re excited about Bashy in Markus The Sadist featuring an exclusive interview with Bashy!

 

Related sections:

Breakin’ Convention

Jonzi’s Diary

- Jonzi spoke about Markus the Sadist in this diary entry, read it here.

 

Related features:

Jonzi D’s Hip Hop Surgery

 

Related links:

Markus the Sadist website

Jonzi D Productions