Review: The Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

The Mugenkyo Drummers, led by Neil Mackie (far left) were a hidden gem that have to be seen live
The Mugenkyo Drummers, led by Neil Mackie (far left) were a hidden gem that have to be seen live
Tom Chambers as Bobby in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

REVIEW: Crazy For You, at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton

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At the end of the show, founding member of Mugenkyo Neil Mackie described the Kings as a cathedral of taiko, and I can’t think of a better way to describe the evening.

The auditorium amplified the rhythms that were played with astonishing coordination and dexterity by the six-strong ensemble, so that even sat in the dress circle you could literally feel the beat. It added to the impact of this multi-sensory performance, which used lighting, dance, masks and slapstick comedy to enhance the hypnotic drumming. Think the Disney film Fantasia – but live, and with drums.

Think the Disney film Fantasia – but live, and with drums

At one point Neil, his back to the audience and lit from behind by a floorlight, performed on a huge drum at the back of the stage. The image was reminiscient of the conductor in the film, and Neil was equally as adept. When he turned around after his energetic solo (who knew one drum could make so many sounds?) he was red-faced and sweating, unsurprisngly.

The group performances allowed the company to create even more complex soundscapes, and was executed with a swagger and flair that comes from experience.

My only complaint was the compering from Neil, whose dad jokes detracted from the mystique of the performance, but luckily this was only twice during the night. A real hidden gem, this has to be seen to be believed.