Review: new show ‘Groove’ transforms the theatre into a nightclub

New production, Groove, invites you to join in at Contact Theatre until Friday 7th October
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Get your Groove on at Contact Theatre with Outbox & Shoreditch Town Hall’s production.

Outbox & Shoreditch Town Hall presents Groove; a complete celebration and acknowledgement of the strengths, struggles, and solidarity faced by the LGBTQIA+ community past and present. The setting is quirky and fun, with set designer Rūta Irbīte transforming Contact Theatre’s stage into a nightclub – Groove – which is a safe space for queer people to find freedom in self-expression.

A remarkably intergenerational cast of six brings dance, movement, and song to the stage. Arriving at the nightclub individually, each carrying out a different action or activity while all keeping to the same beat. Gradually, a unison form and they move together, sharing in the acceptance of Groove. Throughout the production, real testimonies and stories of LGBTQIA+ people across all generations are shared and explored, in such a fashion that inspires and engages audiences.

The wonderful performers are; Fraser Buchanan (he/they), Lavinia Co-op (he/she/they), A de Castro (they/he), Sky Frances (they/them), Jacob Seelochan (all pronouns), and Kim Tatum (she/her). Tatum is the hostess of Groove nightclub, dressing glamorously in a brilliantly sparkly jumpsuit and occasionally, gracefully rolling in on skates. Her performance carries the essence of Queen Latifah’s Mama Morton from Chicago! Heartfelt original songs are performed by Seelochan and Buchanan, who are accompanied by harmonies by their castmates. As well as original tunes, Dominic Kennedy intertwines familiar disco dance beats into the score. Aiden Crawford heads the movement, which is intimate and effortless while feeling very true to the emotion on stage. Director Ben Buratta, associate director Barry Fitzgerald, and producer Lexi Clare have created a real first with this production.

Mirrors carry great significance in Groove. A circular handheld mirror is introduced almost immediately as the show begins, and not only does it recur throughout, but more continuously appears and multiplies until there are more mirrors on stage than there are people. A bigger mirror is rolled out, reflecting the spectators back at themselves, cleverly allowing the audience to feel included and accepted into the safe space of Groove. A de Castro displays what appears to be a disco ball on a keyring at the beginning, which seemingly transitions into a full-size one by the close of the show.

Video and lighting designer Cecil Fenn effectively provide the nightclub atmosphere with purple strobe lighting, and pre-recorded projections are not only screened onto the backdrop of the stage but onto the backs of members of the cast, which is completely unique to anything seen before. When no projections are playing, the lighting adjusts to create vivid shadows of the actors in real-time against the black screens.

This is an energetic, feel-good production that is wholesome and engaging for audiences, and runs for only one hour and ten minutes making Groove a great option for evening entertainment this week. Be prepared to cheer and dance along, as audience participation is not only encouraged but required!

Groove invites you to join in at Contact Theatre until Friday 7th October, full price tickets are £18, with discounts available for those under 35, concessions, and Contact Membership holders, all of which can be purchased here.

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