REVIEW: FRAY at Sadler’s Wells, Lilian Baylis Studio

Playing for two nights (21st 22nd June) at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler Wells, this production blends dance, spoken word, and visual projections.

FRAY tells the compelling story of two brothers, Tullio and Ziya; they are close and with a musician mother and scientist father they have unique upbringing of the creative and mathematical. This becomes even more important when the brothers enter a competition to design a puzzle-led computer game – they have a year to complete it and over this time you see the brothers’ relationship tested to the limits.

When the brothers start a new school Tuillo starts to hang out with a new crew and he wants Ziya to join in too, but Ziya’s obsession with developing the game makes him increasingly insular and hard to reach.

Despite Ziya’s best efforts his game is glitchy and full of bugs and in his frustrated infatuation with the project he seeks help from AI – in the form of an avatar named Lucious, which is strictly against the rules. This narrative explores the blurred lines between reality and virtuality, delving into the complexities of human relationships with each other and AI.

The best parts of the show are definitely the ensemble dance routines – they are cohesive but allow for individuality. There are also some stunning solo performances – particularly by Tuillo when dealing with the torment of not being able to reach his brother emotionally, and by Ziya in his obsessive frustration of trying to create the perfect game.

The lo-fi hip hop beats provided a good backdrop the story, however unfortunately the rapping left a lot to be desired.

The graphics in the backdrop were a little basic to begin with, however they got better over the duration of the play, especially seeing the visual development of the game Ziya was creating plus the brilliant representation of Lucious.

Overall the cast were brilliant; you could see their dedication and commitment to their own performances as well as the production as a whole. Next time be sure to get a ticket – it is well worth seeing and you won’t be disappointed.


Creative Team:

Writer/Executive Producer/Director: Kate Duhamel (award-winning CandyBomber Productions)
Artistic Director: Jonzi D (Olivier Award nominee, founder of Breakin’ Convention)
Music Supervision: Micall Parknsn (acclaimed hip hop artist and producer)
Musical Contributions: Soweto Kinch (award-winning British Jazz saxophonist, composer, broadcaster)
Choreography: Ola Papiór (credits include Rihanna, Alexandra Burke, X Factor)

Cast Highlights:

Tullio: Kieran Lai (Britain’s Got Talent, West End’s & Juliet)
Ziya: Kailon Chéry (Raye, Aitch, BirdGang LTD)
Ensemble: Emma Houston, aka ‘Shortbread’ (finalist at Red Bull BC One UK Cypher, ZooNation, Boy Blue), Sean Edwards (George Michael, STOMP, Punchdrunk, Secret Cinema), Fi Silverthorn ((FKA Twigs, DJ Snake & Ellie Goulding, BirdGang LTD), Kelsey Miller (Kendrick Lamar, Stormzy, Little Mix, Giggs, Chase & Status, Raye, Boy Blue) and George Fairbrother (BBC headliner stage at Leeds festival, JD sports, Puma) and Jane Sekonya-John (Disney’s The Lion King, Aeroplane Man).

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