Review: Woke

POWERFUL: Rapper and beatboxer Testament's latest piece Woke.
POWERFUL: Rapper and beatboxer Testament's latest piece Woke.
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West Yorkshire Playhouse

One of the most striking things of watching the Colin Kaepernick story has been the power of white people joining the black American footballer taking a knee.

When white people take a stand against black oppression it somehow holds more weight. I wonder if men standing up against misogyny carries a similar weight? I suspect not.

This has been preying on my mind since watching the hugely intelligent, moving show Woke, performed by Leeds rapper and beatboxer Testament as part of the Playhouse Furnace season.

It’s that kind of show: a show that makes you really think about your values, your place in the world and what you are doing to live by those values. Testament dazzles with his beatboxing and rapping skills, creating whole songs with the instrument of his mouth, and he puts them to politically pertinent use in Woke: also a term to describe a person who is ‘awake’ to social injustices. Testament, an incredibly likeable stage presence, loves rap music. Since becoming a father to a daughter, he realises there is a lot in rap music to find questionable: mainly the inherent misogyny. In exploring the cognitive dissonance of loving an artform while being appalled by some of its politics Testament opens up a wider conversation about the position of women in society. A heart-on-its- sleeve powerful piece of work that asks some pretty hard questions.