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No Man’s Island, The Big House. Credit: Dan Corbett.

The Big House is a creative arts charity that works with care leavers and vulnerable young people. IMO went to the preview event of their latest production No Man’s Island and Benita, a care leaver working as Digital Engagement Officer at the Children’s Commissioner for England, shares her review.

The Big House supports care leavers and vulnerable young people through creative projects that lead to powerful performances. The charity enables young people to produce ground-breaking art whilst also increasing their wellbeing, inspiration and aspirations. Their mission is to diversify the creative industry, and they do so through the nurture and empowerment of young people. 

I was lucky enough to go to the preview event of No Man’s Island at The Big House, produced as part of a 12-week programme for care leavers and vulnerable young people. No Man’s Island tells the two-decade story of Blaze FM, a pirate radio station that represents more to people than just music. It means a lot to the whole community and they have fought strongly to keep the station alive from a small flat located in Hackney. There are personal secrets coming out, knocking of police, and threats of deportation. 

Follow the Blaze FM crew as they try to break the cycle. A story that follows the lives of those living in constant fear for almost two decades, bearing the impact of one ‘once in a lifetime’ political event after the next, and it seems music might be the only way out.

No Man’s Island, The Big House

Hughbert is the central character, he has two kids – a daughter trying to take up a career in law and a son, Jason, trying to become a successful grime artist. Hughbert is also a father figure to the whole community, he is a very kind, caring and considerate man. 

The play starts with a scene on the stairs with flashlights on, it was dark, but you could still feel the presence of the actors. The lights came on, then there was a freestyle in which each character rapped one by one. As the show went on you could see how music was the way they could express themselves. I was moved by the music, I felt every bit of it, the passion, the soul, and emotion. 

A narrative that I felt came through as the performance progressed was the way society sets young kids to fail, music is all they have as they manage to go on their own paths. The play highlighted the importance of music in giving us motivation and encouraging people to use their voice.

No Man’s Island, The Big House. Credit: Dan Corbett.

Within the two-hour production, they covered Bush and Blair’s invasions of the Middle East, which the pirate station opposes, the Grenfell incident, racial issues in society, COVID-19, and drill – a contemporary rap which is often stereotyped by the local authorities because it appeals to young people who grow up in deprived areas. They tackled every scene very well, it was breath-taking.

One of the highlights of the performance is Hughbert’s final dance of freedom while the Home Office are banging on his door. It makes everything that comes after those events even more heart-breaking. 

Overall, It was a powerful performance, I found every bit of it compelling, this is a thoughtful play with some brilliant musical performances showing the importance of using your voice to send out a message. I was very engaged, I am not someone who really goes to gigs that much but now I want to. I couldn’t take my eyes off the performance for one moment. I didn’t want it to end! 

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