BWW Review: A RIFF ON KEEF: THE HUMAN MYTH Is A Funfilled Search For The Ultimate Chord
Thursday 3rd December 2015, SBW Stables, Kings Cross
An exploration on the history of Rock music, A RIFF ON KEEF: THE HUMAN MYTH is a loose tribute to Keith Richards presented in a typically Australian 'tongue in cheek' style. The protagonist, Keef, shares a modern musical 'fairy-tale' of the search for the "Secret Chord" and the development of Rock and Roll.
In a space lined with fading remnants of graffiti on concrete walls and a faint smell of incense, reminiscent of the smoky bars that many of the great rock and roll bands cut their teeth, a 5 piece band is already playing. The somewhat scruffy Keef (Terry Serio) stands out from the rest of the ensemble in both age and attire with his waistcoat, buttoned shirt and cowboy boots. The remaining 4 younger members of the ensemble have a common theme of leopard print somewhere in their costumes that range from body hugging lycra and skin tight jeans to flowing pants evoking the 70's lines.
The legend of Keef's search for the "Secret Chord" his grandfather was about to teach him before his death sees the story weave its way from England to America, Australia and even the Faukland Islands. In keeping with Richards' origins in England, the story includes references to his days as a choirboy singing for Queen Elizabeth II (Branden Christine), and his Grandfather's (Dorje Swallow) and his Mother's (Lenore Munro) despair at his future prospects whilst she enlightens him on his musical heritage. The quest for the elusive secret to musical enlightenment sees him team up with the larger than life singer Mick (Abe Mitchell), be challenged by Chuck Berry (Christine), and visited by Howlin' Wolf (Swallow), emphasising the influence the Deep South had on Rock and Roll. As the story moves across continents, Hugh O'Connor's (Set and Costume Design) turntable provides another dynamic element to the work along with the use of the central path between the banks of audience and the amplifier boxes offering the opportunity for different spaces to be created.
Benito Di Fonzo's (Playwright) text is descriptive and poetic and Seiro delivers it with an understated confidence and consistent accent. Seiro captures the aging rocker's charisma with a degree of humility ensuring that he is likable even if the audience does not have a connection to Richards. Mitchell is wonderful as the ego fuelled Mick with great physicality to his expression. Munro moves between the more staid mothers to other women in Keef's life with a grounded reality. Christine contrasts Munro's energy in portraying more caricatures of the roles she inhabits. Swallow is dark and broody as Howlin' Wolf and lighter and more down to earth as the Grandfather.
A RIFF ON KEEF: THE HUMAN MYTH is an entertaining exploration of passionate pursuit of great music filled with excess, escapes, and extreme stories. Whilst this would be a must see for any Keith Richards and Rolling Stones fans there is enough context to keep those with a more limited awareness of the genre engaged for the 90 minutes.
Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stables Theatre
25 November - 12 December 2015