REVIEW: Same Same…But Different, Sonia Sabri Company (Blackheath Halls)

Another weekend. Another contemporary dance show for children. Same, same…but different. Which, coincidentally, is the name of the show itself. On a day filled with Brexit protests and a rare Saturday sitting of the House of Commons, it was refreshing to escape into a world that celebrates individuality and diversity. And since Mummy is typing up this review to the background noise of yet another Brexit Commons debate, she feels that the central message of the show is encapsulated by the following words, spoken in that house:

“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us. ” Jo Cox, MP (3 June 2015)

Developed in collaboration with primary schools in London and Birmingham, Same Same…But Different fuses Kathak, street and contemporary dance to create a lively, colourful and engaging piece of work for young audiences. Three very different dancers (Aakanksha Rawat, Laura Vanhulle and Si Rawlinson) come together to tell a story of difference and belonging. They start the same, each anonymous, hidden inside a duvet cover. Well, not quite the same. The covers are different but the identity of the dancers remains a mystery, allowing them to work together as a faceless trio. As they shed their duvet covers, and with them their anonymity, their physical differences are exposed. And as they continue to interact with each other, more differences emerge, accompanied by emotions ranging from fear and isolation to encouragement and respect.

Together the trio share different ways to dance, exploring each other’s worlds, and developing their own movements in response to what they learn. In addition to the three different dance styles, they start to share other skills. From beat-boxing and guitar-playing to ribbon twirling and Kathak ankle bells, there really is something to entertain everyone. And it’s all brought together without a single spoken word of English, making it accessible to an incredibly wide audience. It’s recommended for ages 5+ and, like all the best family shows, it appeals to adults as well as children. Both munchkins were utterly enthralled throughout. Quaver spent the afternoon beat-boxing in Pizza Express, before heading home to re-enact the rest of the show with her own twirling ribbon. Like the ribbon, the message may well have gone over her head, but the show certainly made an impression.

Same Same…But Different is a really special show which brings together audiences despite their own differences. Not only is it hugely entertaining but it has a really powerful message at its core. A message that is delivered through the common language of dance. And for that, Mummy awards it a rating of Raindrops, whiskers, kettles, mittens and brown-paper packages (aka five out of five of my favourite things.) 

Same Same…But Different played at Blackheath Halls on Saturday 19 October 2019. It continues to tour in Autumn 2019. You can catch it at Half Moon Theatre on Saturday 26 October and Stratford Circus Arts Centre on Saturday 23 November.