BANKSY: THE ROOM IN THE ELEPHANT
by Tom Wainwright.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 26 April 2014.
Mon–Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 5 April.
A Curate’s Egg of an Evening.
This is a genuinely fascinating evening as Tom Wainwright’s play is coupled with a short documentary film – Something from Nothing – about his subject, Californian eccentric Tachowa Covington, giving a chance to contrast fiction with fact.
But it does raise the question whether a monologue is a play. Gary Beadle gives a heart-breaking performance as Tachowa, but when in the rather chaotic film documentary that follows you see the real man it is clear Wainwright has done his own thing and come up with a dissertation on being an outsider who is more than the real man.
The monologue tells how Tachowa’s home in a disused water-tanker had the words “This looks like an elephant” written on it by graffiti artist Banksy. The result was it became a work of art, a consortium of dealers stepped-in to acquire the tanker, and Tachowa lost his home, in itself a work of art as he had turned the interior into something amazing. But that is what happens when capitalism clashes with art for art’s sake, although, since Banksy merely printed the words in a straight line, it is hard to see that the result had any artistic value.
Wainwright’s beautifully written account is splendidly spoken by Beadle, describing a man who lives outside the norm, transforms the places he sets up home in into something unique, and lives by his own rules. He is homeless in that he does not own or rent what most people would regard as a home, creating instead homes of his own in abandoned places.
For all his virtuosity, Beadle is really only required to conjure up Tachowa, whereas the monologue as play should surely require the actor to people the stage with a host of characters. The real pity, however, is that Hal Samples’ documentary, which follows, fails to cast any light on the real Tachowa, contains badly filmed sequences and much incoherent babbling. If one wants a lesson how to write a first rate monologue and a lousy documentary this is it. A curate’s egg of an evening then, good in parts.
Tachowa Covington: Gary Beadle.
Director: Emma Callander.
Designer/Costume: Rosanna Vize.
Lighting: Kate Bonney
Music: Massive Attack, Portishead, Roni Size.
Something From Nothing: filmed and directed by Hal Samples.