Human Cargo – 3 June 2018, East Riding Theatre, Beverley
***** After being blown away by his previous adaption and performance in The Transports, I couldn’t wait to see writer, singer and storyteller’s Mathew Crampton’s follow-up Human Cargo in the beautiful town of Beverley.
Featuring American traditional music legend Jeff Warner, Human Cargo blends TED-style storytelling with folk concert, to ask how does humanity actually evolve? Charting cruelties past and present, it delves deep into journey, migration and life, with each performance includes local stories from the Parallel Lives project and partnership with a local refugee or migrant support group, which in Beverley’s case was Open Doors Hull.
Human Cargo is very moving and a very thought-provoking show, ultimately uplifting and emphasising the need for shared experience, that will stay with audiences for a long time and should be seen by everyone, though will sadly probably be seen by the already open minded and not the tabloid believers who would benefit most.
Matthew Crampton uses his natural charm, brilliant talent for storytelling, and extensive research for real good, bringing to life those real individuals whose histories have been forgotten, beautifully blending their stories in an engrossing and fascinating way both with each other as well as with the here (locally to each venue on the tour) and the now, and working in perfect harmony (in the musical and non-musical sense) with Jeff Warner. Matthew also at the beginning of the second act displayed his talent for music hall and proved he would not be out of place as a musical leading man.
Jeff not only was a wonderfully accomplished banjo and melodeon player (and talented puppeteer), but sang with a beautiful solemn Americana singing voice that if you closed your eyes immediately transported you to the 18th and 19th century church congregations and the ships whose human cargo sang the songs to pass on their stories and keep their hopes alive.
The 14 musical numbers offered something for everyone from gospel to shanties and ancient ballads, with lyrics that naturally complimented Matthew’s words and Jeff’s voice, cleverly inserted with recorded extracts, and like any good folk gig, the opportunity for the audience to join in on occasion.
Leading up to Refugee Week from 18 to 24 June, Human Cargo’s tour continues at the Philharmonic, Liverpool on 5 June; Ropetackle, Shoreham on 7 June; Phoenix, Exeter on 12 June; Shire Hall, Dorchester on 13 June; The Cut + Folk East, Halesworth on 14 June; Kings Place, London on 15 June; Florence Nightingale Hall, Matlock on 16 June and finishing at The Place, Bedford on 17 June.