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Between the Lines | New Diorama Theatre

Currently being showcased at the New Diorama Theatre in London, Between The Lines is a brilliant play discussing the freedom of expression and the strength that can be found in a community. Set in a rundown council flat in Hackney, we meet Hughbert (Andrew Brown) and the Shut Down Crew, who illegally host a pirate radio station playing jungle and grime to their listeners. They battle with constant signal cuts and threats from the authorities who are all trying to shut them down, as well as secrets and tragedy throughout. No one said that being a voice for the people was easy! 

Despite the cast being only eight people strong (with one of those being almost entirely mute), you’d think there was a whole stage full. The energy that the cast put out was truly amazing, making the room feel full to the brim, while somehow also making you feel like you were the only one peering in on their intimate conversations. Despite its minimalist set design, this is the kind of simple, no-frills play that you know has a big message to talk about. 

The cast did a fantastic job of playing to the audience during the more musical points of the show, creating an amazing cycle of energy with cast feeding off the audience and vice-versa. The songs were written and performed so well, you’d imagine they were featured in the Top 10 Charts and performed in an arena, you can tell that the cast are truly putting their heart and soul into every performance. A true standout was Aisha (Anais Lone), a stunning voice and fantastic acting chops to go with it, one to definitely watch in the future. 

While music is obviously the huge undercurrent of this play, the humour sprinkled throughout is also completely on point and it’s refreshing to see it not used as a crutch or simply because they feel they had to. The exact right balance of deep, serious thoughts and conversations, lifted and lightened with witty one-liners that had the whole audience chuckling. The dialogue exchanged between characters is almost lyrical in itself, reminiscent of slam poetry in some parts, which helps the show to ebb and flow in the same way that music does, making you wait for the next beat to drop.  

This show explores a lot of themes during its two-hour run, though not at all in a preachy way. It welcomes you into the discussions around chosen family and how history can often be bigger than us and have a lasting impact. It also highlights a powerful discussion on the power of art, no matter the form, how it influences people, not always for the best, and where the accountability in that lies. 

Gritty and impactful, just like the music performed throughout this play, Between The Lines is an unexpected journey that reminds you how impactful your community and chosen family can be. This is sure to be a hit with everyone, not only for the fantastic beats that hit your ears throughout, but for the messages and discussions it will no doubt spark. Between the Lines runs at the New Diorama Theatre until 1st June - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Ali Wright


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