New Diorama Theatre
Reviewed – 9th March 2018
“a veritable plethora of stimulation”
In the year 2018, affordable housing in London still seems a bit of a joke. There may be a rise in various schemes and changes to legislation to try and help first-time buyers and the like to get on the property ladder, however, we are still in the midst of a tremendous housing crisis. Over the decades Londoners’ attitudes to home ownership have had to majorly adjust, and theatre company Kandinsky has chronicled this gear change in a most inventive way for their latest production, Trap Street. This multi-sensory show achieves a detailed, yet highly accessible and entertaining perspective on urban life, as well as the making and breaking of inner city communities.
In the 1960s, the Austen Estate was viewed as a shiny beacon of hope for housing, a figure of London’s future. Now, it is a crumbling, inconvenient blot on the map, obstructing the way for new buildings and enterprises making money. Spanning over fifty years, we witness the significant changes that this cluster of tower blocks has endured, through the eyes of one particular family who have been there from the cutting of its ribbon, to the demolition ball looming outside.
Trap Street energetically bounces back and forth, through the decades, jam-packing its eighty minute duration into seeming far longer; which is a good thing, I must hasten to add. Actors Hamish MacDougall and Danusia Samal must be commended for the multitude of characters they realistically transform into, whilst Amelda Brown brings the emotional weight that the show requires. With live music, and a TV projecting dates, names, and video footage, in addition to the stylised actions of the performers; there is a veritable plethora of stimulation. You do not know where to look at times.
Much of my fascination was with musician and composer Zac Gvirtzman who unobtrusively sits in the corner yet integrally busies himself with creating the wonderfully discordant live soundscape to audibly enhance the performance. Manoeuvring between playing instruments, twiddling dials and working a vinyl record turntable all at once, is just as captivating to watch (and of course hear) as what is happening on the main stage.
Based on original material by Kandinsky founding members James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney, Trap Street is a collaboratively devised production from the cast. With an imaginative response to use of props and movement, and with its social commentary, there is arguably a real likeness to the type of work that Complicité produces. Yeatman just so happens to be an Associate Director for the award-winning company too, and it shows. Regardless of where their influences may lie, Trap Street certainly stands on its own two feet, taking a creative, non-formulaic approach to commentating on what homes and, more importantly, community means to us in this day and age.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Harry Yeatman
New Diorama Theatre until 31st March