Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, two children ran away in search of freedom,but found themselves lost....in the hood. Welcome to the Ruff Endz Estate, the home of the vinyl spinning DJ Spinderella, who is dating the uber confident lady magnet Prince who, being a "true playa" is two timing her with the vivacious rapper MC Rap-on-Zel. She lives on the 10th floor of the tower block, letting down her long hair extenshuns from her window so that Prince can pay her secret visits. Then there is Lil Red, a singer who has just signed a deal with Wolf, the manager of Big TeefRecords. She secretly has feelings for music producer Jakk (who lives in the basement) who is struggling with debt, is late on the rent and facing eviction. A desperate Jakk enters into some dodgy dealings with Giant, the resident drug-dealing pimp, who lives in the penthouse. The children meet The Landlord, who sends them out to work for him with the task of finding gifts for his daughter Rap-On-Zel's birthday. In return, he promises to see them out of the Hood and safely home. They have only four days to find: an ipod as white as milk, a hoodie as red as blood, a weave as yellow as corn and trainers as pure as gold...
Those of you who are familiar with Stephen Sondheim might well recognise the above synopsis as being pretty damned similar to his work "Into the Woods" which I have reviewed elsewhere. As there was no mention of this in the programme, Im not sure whether to label this production as an affectionate tribute or a complete rip-off. Whichever it is, only those familiar with the source would really have appreciated how clever/how much of a rip-off this is. Unfortunately,unless "Into the Woods" has been performed at Belmarsh Prison or the local Young Offender's Correction Facilty recently, I very much doubt that many of the bruvvas and sistas in the audience would have realised this - it was very much aimed at the "Yeah but no but yeah but no" demographic. A comment I overheard (well, it didnt take much overhearing as it was bellowed in a voice that would have put the Beachy Head foghorn to shame) showed that most of the audience had only ever been in the kind of theatre that deals with bones broken after falling into the gutta on a night out on the razz in some of the seedier parts of London: "Taneesha, it's massif in 'ere girl!". A few rows behind me were a middle-aged couple looking like they had just stepped off the train from Tunbridge Wells, obviously hanging onto their valuables for dear life and on the sharp look out for knives being waved.