Part of the way through his show, Marv Radio tells his crowd that it is not unusual for him to be performing to hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. It is strange then to find him grafting on the Free Fringe to small crowds in a venue that you could easily get lost in. This downsizing suits Marv though, as he intimately walks you through his life story and how hip-hop ties in with his very existence.
Marv is known as a beatboxer, and indeed his skills are immensely impressive. He will make sounds that you didn’t know human voices could produce, be it an uncanny mimicking of an everyday noise like traffic, or just injecting a beat into proceedings. When Marv isn’t beatboxing, he is improvising some rap or simply telling the incredible story he has to tell. He takes the tales of audience members and blends them into his act to emphasise how the message he sends is a universal one, a message carved from the obstacles thrown at him during his own life.
Depending on the subject matter, Marv is capable of swapping between charismatic and funny, to sombre and respectful. He does this several times during the show, but it never feels unnatural or unnecessary as he is simply expressing his personality. Most of what he says however is said in time to a beat that he crafts on stage in the passion of the moment, and these crafted tunes always hit the mark perfectly to match whatever he is talking about at the time. It is this that separates Marv from a typical beatboxer that you may find busking on the Royal Mile. He doesn’t just master the how of his sounds, but the why. There is purpose and significance behind his music as there is meaning behind his improvised words.
Marv’s story takes the audience through several places, stretching from London, all the way to the mountains of Peru. He is amazingly open about his mental health struggles and the spiritual experiences that have helped to make him who he is today. Exactly how receptive you are to Marv’s recollections about out-of-body experiences and shamanism depends on how open you are to the concept in the first place, but this is clearly a performer who knows that his life has been changed by it.
Mantra is a very emotional show to watch. You empathise, laugh and may shed a tear at this guy who is bursting with talent. Marv has enviable musical ability and the passion to match it. He allows the audience to share in his experiences and contribute their own, so at times in a small audience it can feel like a helping hand for those in need of healing. The result is a satisfying show no matter what you came to see. Whether you are in it for beat-boxing royalty, light-touches of humour, or the recital of an emotional odyssey, Mantra delivers on all fronts.
Marv Radio Presents: Mantra
Bar Bados – Room One (Venue 32)
Until 25 August
Part of the PBH Free Fringe
Image: Marv Radio