Cope is what R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet should have been
There’s only one thing you need to know about the Globe Theatre’s production Cope: it’s a hip-hop musical.
You can save your R. Kelly jokes though, as Cope wasn’t a giant failure for you to laugh at with your friends, à la Trapped in the Closet. [I will brook no slander against Kells. ––Ed.]
The plot follows a young man who becomes unable to work after he is diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis than can lead to the eventual fusing of the spine. Being barely able to work, this subsequently has an effect on his monetary income as well as his personal relationships. Cope not only looks at the effects of physical and mental disease on the specific subject directly affected, but it also examines the effects upon those surrounding the affected individual. Furthermore, Cope delves into scenarios many Reginans can relate to, such as the local music scene, monetary issues, drug use, and low-income neighbourhoods.
One of the strongest features of the performance was the dialogue; it was well written with ample verisimilitude and had a strong balance of tension and comic relief. Moreover, this was demonstrated in each individual actor’s ability to adapt in every scene and know when to be either dramatic or funny. Each of the three actors did a fantastic job of becoming his or her character and bringing a unique part to the dramatic action, from a strung-out cokehead to a suicidal musician, and the love interest caught in between.
A strong point of Cope’s musical arrangements was the DJ mixing the backing tracks for the songs live, which brought the samples and canned beats to life. Still, the songs were a bit less dynamic and lively than typical musicals featuring a live band playing instruments.
With most performances at the Globe, usually a few words are said before the show by the artistic director or creator of the performance. This, however, was prerecorded and remixed with the DJ scratching overtop of it – not a significant undertaking by any means, but a sign of the attention to detail that made the show particularly interesting.
The biggest detriment to the music of Cope was the volume of the instrumental music as opposed to the vocals, which were a tad too loud comparatively and diminished the presence of the backing music. However, this is not to say that the vocals shouldn’t have been heard, as both actors who performed songs did so very well; the flow of Greg Ochitwa’s raps underneath Kaitlyn Semple’s graceful melodies was both well-constructed and well-performed.
As a whole, Cope was a satisfactory performance and a unique take on musical theatre, and the production continues the Globe’s tradition of producing quality productions on both the large and small stage.