Licensed to Ill,
Venue: Southwark Playhouse, London.
Producer: The Corner Shop Events
Writer: Adam El Hagar, Simon Maeder and the company
Cast includes: Adam El Hagar, Daniel Foxsmith, Simon Maeder, Tope Mikun
Running time: 75 minutes
Until Dec. 24
For the non-initiate, The Beastie Boys were a group of white New Yorkers who made the leap from punk rock to hip hop.
The result was the number 1 hit Licensed to Ill and an opening up to the white suburbs of a previously black musical phenomenon.
For the august New York Times, the group was so significant, the premature death from cancer of band member Adam Yauch (aka MCA) in 2012, which also meant the end of the Beastie Boys, warranted a full-length obituary, mapping the transition from “testosterone-driven pranksters” to “socially-conscious rappers”.
Company The Corner Shop Events crams into 75 energetic minutes all that is essential about the Beastie Boys, beginning with the name – it needed to be stupid and original – and ending with a playground named after Yauch.
In between, is anything from being the support act for a Madonna tour, the euphoric moment of the Rolling Stone headline “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece” to the “heavy news” of Yauch’s cancer diagnosis, delivered in a still moment of straight speech that shocks after the constant movement and rapping that goes before.
As the band members, Adam El Hagar (MCA), Daniel Foxsmith (Ad-Rock) and Simon Maeder (Mike D) have perfectly mastered the verbal and physical agility of hip hop.
They almost convince us it’s easy except the sweat of their brows is evidence of the sheer physical effort required.
To fully appreciate the tribute, not to mention understanding the torrent of lyrics, you need to be a die-hard Beastie Boys fan, but even if you’re not, the overwhelming enthusiasm of this show might make you think about becoming one.
Barbara Lewis © 2016.