Austerity and Me
Reviewed – 14th June 2018
“a truthful and brave piece of theatre”
Austerity and Me is a show written and devised over the course of six months by The Performance Company. This is the first show for the company of local 18-24 year olds, based in South London’s Ovalhouse. The piece focuses on the ways in which austerity measures, set by the government a decade ago, have affected the lives of people in London and the ways in which this still persists today.
The show is comprised of a multitude of performance styles, each one playing to the strengths of every member of the company. It is an incredibly robust and thoughtful piece of applied theatre, the output of a long creative journey that included developing both performance and devising skills. Head of Learning & Participation at Ovalhouse, Mahri Reilly explained the benefit of creating the piece in such a way, “it offered them the opportunity to voice frustrations and fears, as well as come together to provide solutions and collective actions.” This was certainly evident throughout the performance with each actor emanating their passion for the play and its subject matter, particularly when that story was derived from their own experiences of austerity measures.
It was incredibly refreshing not only to hear the voices of the youth of South London being projected to a diverse audience, but also within an area of the city that has undergone extreme gentrification over the past ten years. During one of the few points in the piece, whereby the fourth wall was broken, the performers explained that during the creative process they had lost three members of the company directly due to austerity measures. In particular, one member could not attend weekly rehearsals because they were juggling two jobs to pay their rent.
Watching such a truthful and brave piece of theatre, directly from South London-based young people became even more poignant when focus was drawn towards the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. It was a stark reminder that the key messages embedded within this powerful piece are still incredibly potent today. Austerity and Me is a wonderful piece that will awaken your inner political monologue, and inspire you to raise the voices of those around you for the greater good.
Reviewed by Claire Minnitt
Austerity and Me
Previously reviewed at this venue