Henry Box Brown
Henry Box Brown is a musical, inspired by the true story of a slave that escaped during the 1850’s by mailing themselves in a box in order to find freedom.
The cast is made up of a group of incredible singers and when Henry, played by Paul Gee and his cast members are given a chance to really let rip they give you goosebumps. The likes of Paul Gee, Jahmaul Bakare and Tarrance Taylor in particular stood out on this front but not only did they all have stunning individual voices but the moments where they sang in harmony, sounding like a gospel choir were real highlights of the show.
The music varied in style throughout Henry Box Brown however whilst the gospel and traditional songs fitted the narrative well there were some odd choices, such as the money song that the slave owners sang about how much they love money. The style of this was understandably different to the rest of the narrative but the number failed to move the plot on at all or even develop any characters throughout the show. A nice touch was the live African drumming which accompanied many of the numbers.
Whilst the show is a historical piece the foundations of Henry Box Brown is about human kindness, a theme that can still resonate today. However, possibly due to the short running time of the show, this theme wasn’t really given much of a chance to develop. This development was also needed on other fronts. I felt like Henry wasn’t given much of a chance for his character to develop nor his relationship and love for Nancy. This meant that when horrific things happened to Henry the emotional attachment between him and the audience just hadn’t been developed and consequently in what was supposed to be the emotional moments in the show, failed to move me.
Henry Box Brown is a show with many of the right elements there, an interesting story line, a talented cast and some beautiful music, it is just one that needs to be developed in order to develop the characters and emotional investment in them.
Henry Box Brown is on on at the Big Yin, Gilded Balloon, Patter House from 19:30 20:30. To find out more about their show visit their website.