A HIP hop theatre company is hoping to start a conversation about mental health among men as part of its first nationwide tour.

Oxford-based Body Politic will return home to the county this week with dates in Didcot and Banbury, performing its show Father Figurine.

Combining poignant spoken word poetry with hip hop dance, the show is being used as an opportunity to talk about the vulnerabilities of men and boys.

Emma-Jane Morbey, the artistic director of Body Politic, said: "We're very excited to be embarking on our first national tour.

"Father Figurine is a work we're immensely proud to be sharing with new audiences.

"We have an exceptionally strong cast and team raring to go."

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The show is being billed as an emotionally 'moving and brave' story about a turbulent father and son relationship.

It delves into questions about mental health, inspired by the statistic that nearly half of men find it difficult to express their feelings.

Audience members are asked to follow the central characters as they work out how to share their emotions with each other.

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After being founded in 2012, Body Politic has dedicated itself to addressing the growing prevalence of mental health issues in young people.

Alongside the live performances, it will work with tour venues and local young people to talk about the issues and develop dance routines and poetry in response to the questions raised.

Figures show that 75 per cent of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, while 50 per cent of mental health problems in adults begin before the age of 15.

With Father Figurine, the theatre group hopes to bring these figures to light and empower men and boys.

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Ms Morbey added: "This is also a great opportunity for us to work with young people.

"In the residencies we'll create a safe space for them to explore what mental health means to them and bring their own ideas to the stage.

"For us that's what's really exciting about this tour.

"It's about really highlighting the importance of mental health."

See the show at the Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot on Thursday and the Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, on March 8.