Hype Man

Critics

LemonMeter

90 %

Reviews: 15

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

A hip-hop trio – frontman, hype man and beat maker – is on the verge of making it big on national TV when a police shooting of a black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest. Winner, 2018 Elliot Norton Award. Feb. 23 – April 14; Fridays @ 8 p.m. / Saturdays @ 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. / Sundays at 2 p.m. / Mondays at 8 p.m.; $25-$45; In addition to regular seating, Pay-What-You-Want tickets are available on Monday nights (subject to availability). Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. (at Normandie), Los Angeles, CA 90029; (323) 663-1525; www.FountainTheatre.com.

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Reviews

"Director Deena Selenow delineates the characters with sensitivity and understanding, allowing the audience to empathize with their humanity. Lighting design by Chu Hsuan Chang and sound by Malik Allen add to the drama, especially in the musical scenes. The effective set is designed by James Maloof. Theater allows us to experience lifestyles that may be very different from our own. While I went to the play knowing little about the hip-hop scene, I came away with an appreciation for an art form that speaks to the identity of many young people today."

sweet - Marilyn Tower Oliver - Los Feliz Ledger - ...read full review


"The play is very funny, showing playwright Goodwin's expertise at creating zingers and relatable back and forth insults. However, the writing lacks in other areas: Peep One often brings up her mixed race, creating interesting racial commentary. The drawback is that this commentary remains just commentary without a dramatic purpose."

sweet-sour - Ezra Bitterman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


"Let's face it, most stage audiences do not appear to be of the hip-hop generation. But even those who are not fans of the genre will find “Hype Man” an overdue immersion into a cultural phenomenon. Buoyed by superb technical elements — James Maloof's set, Chu Hsuan Chang's lighting, Malik Allen's sound, Michael Mullen's costumes and Shen Heckel's props — director Deena Selenow elicits first-rate performances from her tight-knit cast, including galvanic rap sequences buoyed by beat maker Romero Mosley. As Verb, Hancock is a suppressed ball of concentrated energy who never walks when he can bound. Even if his character frequently lapses into diatribe, Hancock makes his every utterance richly believable — no mean feat."

sweet - F. Kathleen Foley - LA Times - ...read full review


"Together, the trio of actors works in harmony, collaborating and feeding off of each other's energy. Their powerful dynamic transforms the play into more than a story about activism, but of human experience."

sweet - Shelby Corley - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"The latest in a long line of Fountain Theatre winners, HYPE MAN: a break beat play has much to say about race and racism, friendship and fame, and the power of music to both unite and divide. More importantly, it says all this in the most electrifying of ways."

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


"One of the celebratory aspects of the theatrical experience is its ability to allow audiences the illusion of participating within any reality, regardless of how alien to their own. Theatai members may find themselves swayed by the hollow assurances of the weird sisters, shaken by a son discovering his father's failures, or swell with the defiance of a sister's choice to bury her brothers. At its best, theatre spans those vast separations of time and culture revealing how shared struggles makes a community of all humanity. And this is what Idris Goodwin's Hype Man at The Fountain Theatre, strives to do with its story of a trio of young hip-hop rappers on the very verge of breaking big."

sweet - Ernest Kearney - The TVolution - ...read full review


"While this critic cannot speak to the content of Goodwin's previous "breakbeat plays, " Hype Man, in its West Coast premiere at the Fountain Theatre, is entirely hype-deserving and not simply because it knows how to crush a beat and a lyric. A seemingly straightforward tale of friendship, ambition, and racial unrest doubles back on itself several times and brings in the thorniness of class and gender. Deena Selenow's production is by turns angry and compassionate, never short of riveting. Chalk this up, in no small measure, to the work of Matthew Hancock as Verb. "

sweet - Evan Henerson - Curtain Up - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"In Idris Goodwin's Hype Man playing at the Fountain Theatre, the hype man, the MC and even the DJ, receive equal recognition. In this well directed play about hip-hop, identity and standing up for what you believe in."

sweet - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


"Director Deena Selenow keeps the emotions and the intelligence turned up on high as the actors challenge each other and themselves. Playwright Idris Goodwin explores the pressures of society, the music business, and the characters' personal lives with language that crackles. My only criticisms: the show gets episodic at times, and Verb is picked on for his past more than anyone else. The Fountain gets props for reaching out to a new, young audience with this play. Hype Man is the way it is today, and we need to listen."

sweet - Bill Garry - Discover Hollywood - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"This naturally opens up the whole theme of appropriation: a Caucasian performer adopting hip-hop, a preeminently African-American form of artistic expression, but perhaps betraying its anti-establishment ethos. Wearing her “The future is female” t-shirt, Peep One reminds Verb that he himself has participated in recordings with other performers who have put down women in the ugliest of terms, so where does he get the right to demand “political correctness” of other people? Besides which, she says to her two fighting colleagues, “Without me y'all wouldn't be able to say a damn thing.”"

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman
"The main problems with the production are its staging and, by extension, the lead performances. For inexplicable reasons, Selenow repeatedly positions Hancock and Addison at opposite ends of the stage, where they toss dialogue at each other like so many catch balls."

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Capital and Main - ...read full review


Joan Alperin
"A promising hip-hop group formed by two childhood friends — a white writer and a black hype man — is thrown off its beat by racial tensions in the West Coast premiere of a powerful, funny and meaningful drama: Hype Man by Idris Goodwin. The Fountain Theatre has opened it's 2019 season with the third in Goodwin's series of “break beat plays” about hip-hop in America and the way that it has affected personal relationships, aspirations and politics. The 75-minute one-act covers issues of race, gender, privilege, responsibility and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest, but mostly it's about friendship."

sweet - Joan Alperin - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Stephen Fife
"The best work in Hype Man occurs during the musical performances, which capture some of the excitement of hip hop, while also establishing a credible example of the genre. But the acting in general is below the usual standard at The Fountain, and Hancock in particular seems handcuffed and muted. The best work comes from Ms. Thibeaux, who captures the vulnerability and rising self-confidence of a young woman in this male-dominated world..."

sweet-sour - Stephen Fife - Stage Raw - ...read full review


"Talented director Deena Selenow does a superb job of turning three legitimate actors into rap stars. Of course, she also has a talented trio working to reach their mutual goal. If HYPE MAN weren't a play – and the three were in fact introduced at a concert – it would be hard to separate actor from rapper. Hancock's moves are fluid as he bonelessly gyrates across the stage. Addison's rap is clear as a bell – and just right for today's audiences. Thibeaux's “take control” manner with the necessary mechanics is perfection."

sweet - Elaine Mura - LA Splash - ...read full review


"Virtually everybody who watches television has seen rap performances at one time or another. But to have it take place in a small theatre in a brilliant drama is thrilling, consciousness expanding, humanizing, and educational. ...The cast, under the keen, fast-paced direction of Deena Selenow, delivers extraordinary performances."

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


"Director Deena Selenow delineates the characters with sensitivity and understanding, allowing the audience to empathize with their humanity. Lighting design by Chu Hsuan Chang and sound by Malik Allen add to the drama, especially in the musical scenes. The effective set is designed by James Maloof. Theater allows us to experience lifestyles that may be very different from our own. While I went to the play knowing little about the hip-hop scene, I came away with an appreciation for an art form that speaks to the identity of many young people today."

sweet - Marilyn Tower Oliver - Los Feliz Ledger - ...read full review


"The play is very funny, showing playwright Goodwin's expertise at creating zingers and relatable back and forth insults. However, the writing lacks in other areas: Peep One often brings up her mixed race, creating interesting racial commentary. The drawback is that this commentary remains just commentary without a dramatic purpose."

sweet-sour - Ezra Bitterman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


"Let's face it, most stage audiences do not appear to be of the hip-hop generation. But even those who are not fans of the genre will find “Hype Man” an overdue immersion into a cultural phenomenon. Buoyed by superb technical elements — James Maloof's set, Chu Hsuan Chang's lighting, Malik Allen's sound, Michael Mullen's costumes and Shen Heckel's props — director Deena Selenow elicits first-rate performances from her tight-knit cast, including galvanic rap sequences buoyed by beat maker Romero Mosley. As Verb, Hancock is a suppressed ball of concentrated energy who never walks when he can bound. Even if his character frequently lapses into diatribe, Hancock makes his every utterance richly believable — no mean feat."

sweet - F. Kathleen Foley - LA Times - ...read full review


"Together, the trio of actors works in harmony, collaborating and feeding off of each other's energy. Their powerful dynamic transforms the play into more than a story about activism, but of human experience."

sweet - Shelby Corley - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"The latest in a long line of Fountain Theatre winners, HYPE MAN: a break beat play has much to say about race and racism, friendship and fame, and the power of music to both unite and divide. More importantly, it says all this in the most electrifying of ways."

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


"One of the celebratory aspects of the theatrical experience is its ability to allow audiences the illusion of participating within any reality, regardless of how alien to their own. Theatai members may find themselves swayed by the hollow assurances of the weird sisters, shaken by a son discovering his father's failures, or swell with the defiance of a sister's choice to bury her brothers. At its best, theatre spans those vast separations of time and culture revealing how shared struggles makes a community of all humanity. And this is what Idris Goodwin's Hype Man at The Fountain Theatre, strives to do with its story of a trio of young hip-hop rappers on the very verge of breaking big."

sweet - Ernest Kearney - The TVolution - ...read full review


"While this critic cannot speak to the content of Goodwin's previous "breakbeat plays, " Hype Man, in its West Coast premiere at the Fountain Theatre, is entirely hype-deserving and not simply because it knows how to crush a beat and a lyric. A seemingly straightforward tale of friendship, ambition, and racial unrest doubles back on itself several times and brings in the thorniness of class and gender. Deena Selenow's production is by turns angry and compassionate, never short of riveting. Chalk this up, in no small measure, to the work of Matthew Hancock as Verb. "

sweet - Evan Henerson - Curtain Up - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"In Idris Goodwin's Hype Man playing at the Fountain Theatre, the hype man, the MC and even the DJ, receive equal recognition. In this well directed play about hip-hop, identity and standing up for what you believe in."

sweet - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


"Director Deena Selenow keeps the emotions and the intelligence turned up on high as the actors challenge each other and themselves. Playwright Idris Goodwin explores the pressures of society, the music business, and the characters' personal lives with language that crackles. My only criticisms: the show gets episodic at times, and Verb is picked on for his past more than anyone else. The Fountain gets props for reaching out to a new, young audience with this play. Hype Man is the way it is today, and we need to listen."

sweet - Bill Garry - Discover Hollywood - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"This naturally opens up the whole theme of appropriation: a Caucasian performer adopting hip-hop, a preeminently African-American form of artistic expression, but perhaps betraying its anti-establishment ethos. Wearing her “The future is female” t-shirt, Peep One reminds Verb that he himself has participated in recordings with other performers who have put down women in the ugliest of terms, so where does he get the right to demand “political correctness” of other people? Besides which, she says to her two fighting colleagues, “Without me y'all wouldn't be able to say a damn thing.”"

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman
"The main problems with the production are its staging and, by extension, the lead performances. For inexplicable reasons, Selenow repeatedly positions Hancock and Addison at opposite ends of the stage, where they toss dialogue at each other like so many catch balls."

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Capital and Main - ...read full review


Joan Alperin
"A promising hip-hop group formed by two childhood friends — a white writer and a black hype man — is thrown off its beat by racial tensions in the West Coast premiere of a powerful, funny and meaningful drama: Hype Man by Idris Goodwin. The Fountain Theatre has opened it's 2019 season with the third in Goodwin's series of “break beat plays” about hip-hop in America and the way that it has affected personal relationships, aspirations and politics. The 75-minute one-act covers issues of race, gender, privilege, responsibility and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest, but mostly it's about friendship."

sweet - Joan Alperin - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Stephen Fife
"The best work in Hype Man occurs during the musical performances, which capture some of the excitement of hip hop, while also establishing a credible example of the genre. But the acting in general is below the usual standard at The Fountain, and Hancock in particular seems handcuffed and muted. The best work comes from Ms. Thibeaux, who captures the vulnerability and rising self-confidence of a young woman in this male-dominated world..."

sweet-sour - Stephen Fife - Stage Raw - ...read full review


"Talented director Deena Selenow does a superb job of turning three legitimate actors into rap stars. Of course, she also has a talented trio working to reach their mutual goal. If HYPE MAN weren't a play – and the three were in fact introduced at a concert – it would be hard to separate actor from rapper. Hancock's moves are fluid as he bonelessly gyrates across the stage. Addison's rap is clear as a bell – and just right for today's audiences. Thibeaux's “take control” manner with the necessary mechanics is perfection."

sweet - Elaine Mura - LA Splash - ...read full review


"Virtually everybody who watches television has seen rap performances at one time or another. But to have it take place in a small theatre in a brilliant drama is thrilling, consciousness expanding, humanizing, and educational. ...The cast, under the keen, fast-paced direction of Deena Selenow, delivers extraordinary performances."

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review