Saturday, 17 November 2018

Toe-tapping and tail-shaking

I WAS shaking my “tail feather” at the end of this show, a tribute to Tina and her inspirational partner

I WAS shaking my “tail feather” at the end of this show, a tribute to Tina and her inspirational partner Ike.

We see the development of R&B music and its performance as reinvented by them over the decades. By the appearance of news articles and footage, on a stage backdrop, we pass through decades. We are moved from segregated entertainment bars in America to Germany and back to stadiums, passing historically over the Vietnam war, through Watergate, and on. People fought for their rights. White and black music forms moved in together. Ike and Tina lived through change and made change happen.

In this show Emi Wokoma was Tina Turner for the night. She sang the songs tunefully, hollering throatily , and was the more captivating because she moved as Tina does. At first we see her raw and unusual jabbing during set floor routines (late Sixties) then by progression we see her liberate herself by strutting, reversing, half squatting, and booty shaking.

Rumours are that Emi Wokoma once taught fitness, which would explain the stamina she sustained over the two and a half hours. That said, the Ikettes kept up with the dance and song routines (exhausting). Ike (Chris Timmings) is a fabulous guitarist and his band (brass, drums and guitars) did the stars proud.

Disappointingly the conversational elements, stringing the story together in my view lacked energy and movement. The production deliberately avoids examining too deeply Ike’s tragedy and Tina’s long struggle with domestic physical abuse but for me the snapshot reference to this part of the story was derisory.

The producer’s point is that their music moved to become extraordinary in its time and made for Tina and Ike their mark on the history board. There is no doubt that Ike and Tina created a unique style, well replicated by the cast of this show.

Liz Rooke
Soul Sister, New Theatre, Oxford

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