A premise so ingenious that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been made before

Smith-Bynoe (left) and MacArthur are “head, shoulders, knees and toes on top of others” (Multitude Media)

“Boys and girls, are you ready to party? It’s Wednesday night at the Soho Theater and audiences are asked to imagine they are the six-year-old guests at a child’s birthday party in West London. Anastasia, the daughter of a Russian oligarch and his indifferent and younger (much younger) wife celebrate her special day. Entertainment is provided by an unlikely double act: Mr String (Ed MacArthur) chic and seasoned pro and MC SPITTA, a rapper capable of turning even the simplest nursery rhyme into slick bars of grime. Things change in this fierce scene. Kids can now choose their own performers on TikTok and a rivalry forms between the two (at least from String’s point of view), as they fight to become “head, shoulders, knees and feet to the bone. above others “.

An hour-long cabaret musical with a premise so ingenious that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before, Chain against SPITTA is nevertheless dependent on a strong participation of its public. Turns out, there’s no better way to get a crowd of adults yelling at you than by treating them like kids, especially after you’ve had a few drinks. The couple never forget their imaginary audience and the magic tricks they show with real finesse – as confirmed by the friend sitting next to me, who is a real children’s party leader.

Like many industries, it turns out that the world of party bags and birthday cakes is a divided world. String knows the tricks of a kid’s board game, but kids want free, natural improvisation from SPITTA (“The last time my family member improvised it caused a recession,” String warns). We see the division in the songs, where MacArthur performs show tunes on the piano, while Smith-Bynoe spits bars at lightning speed. But the real magic comes when genres blend together, looping tracks used to mix live instruments with beatbox and vocals. A desynchronized beat could ruin everything, but its success shows the technical prowess of these artists.

Despite all of its entertainment and games, the east / west London divide between our heroes keeps the show politically alive. This societal split is presented in a rap battle between SPITTA and the “Waitrose prick”, both sides so densely filled with puns and pop culture references (“You’ll need more than magic, Radcliffe” ) while also discussing class, poverty and racial profiling among wealthy children and their bodyguards. It’s a edgy thing – when the crowd is encouraged to give their best animal prints, MacArthur masquerades as a pig by pretending to be a police officer and explaining how hard his job is.

As for its rate per minute, Chain against SPITTA is unprecedented – a highlight is an R&B jam serenade from SPITTA after which I can’t look at a certain children’s game the same way anymore. Because it is the genius of Chain against SPITTA – he weaves central vanity into all aspects of the show, but never lets it feel forced. Other characters are played by sock puppets and alternate costumes consist of blue clown wigs and cartoon glasses with attached noses. When this show ends (inevitably) at the Edinburgh Fringe, be sure to grab a ticket – you’d be a clown not to.

‘String v SPITTA’ will be playing at the Soho Theater until December 11

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