Little Revolution** (Almeida Theatre)

Posted: September 14, 2014 in Theatre

little revolutionThe London riots of August 2011 did not overflow into the territory of gentrified middle class Islington, but they were close enough to cause disquiet and the Almeida always knew that it would be touching a raw nerve by staging this 70 minute account of them. The theatre is to be applauded for putting on a show that is topical (relatively) and relevant, but, sadly, what it seems to have forgotten is that the first requirement for any dramatic production is a play and this under-developed, scrappy piece can hardly be described as such. Alecky Blythe’s verbatim theatre technique (recording interviews with people affected by an event and then using actors to replicate their responses as exactly as possible) achieved great success at the National with London Road, but there her musical collaboration gave the show shape and form, both of which are lacking here. This is a docu-drama which works as neither a documentary nor a drama; the former might have had a commentary to link it together and the latter a narrative thread. The closest we get to either is Blythe herself introducing the show and wandering around with a recorder in her hand. On the positive side, the appearance of seasoned professionals such as Ronni Ancona, Imogen Stubbs and Rufus Wright alongside a “Community Chorus” of around 30 locals works well. Director Joe Hill-Gibbons choreographs them all, using almost non-stop motion by the actors to accentuate a sense of chaos throughout an auditorium which is re-configured to in-the-round.  There are some outstanding vignettes and performances, but they last for about three minutes maximum and there is too little either to hold them together or to make a clear unifying point. As a result, they are likely to prove quickly forgettable, as is this entire production.

Performance date: 12 September 2014

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