HIDDEN SHOW: THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR
conceived and devised by Sarah Golding, Ruth Dudman and Tom Bowtell.
Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 4 January 2014.
2pm 31 Dec, 2-4 Jan
7pm 30 Dec, 2, 3 Jan.
Runs 2hr 40min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7223 2223.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 December.
Another dimension to BAC’s Christmas show brings the fatal knowledge of adult existence.
One misleading statement appears in our review of BAC’s Christmas show The Good Neighbour, 2013. For it was claimed young audiences went on one of ten trails round rooms revealing matters relating to George Neighbour, who is unaware of his past.
But one trail is for adults (or 14+) only. And, as the show itself is an admirable opposite to pantomime, so ‘adults only’ means something other than a pantomime with rude, and often feeble, jokes.
Mainly, it means visiting a selection of the scenes played to all the groups behind doors of apparent Victorian solidity with bureaucratic notices about knocking three times, or suchlike, across several floors. But it concludes on a more sombre note, in a dark room with a blazing fire and – for what else can such an environment betoken in Christmas-period theatre? – a revelation in a ghost story.
There, our guide, who – looking back – had turned up mysteriously after everyone else had departed on their journey, reveals the fatal truth she shares with George.
Suddenly the cheery George we have met falls into place, with his phobias over heights, Christmas, windows and the like. For it was in the fire at a nearby department store (Arding and Hobbs – now Clapham Junction’s Debenhams) that George Neighbour, working on the third floor, saved others’ lives but not his own.
It’s with this sombre knowledge we join the others, with a special cry for George to have courage, thus leading to his discovery of a newspaper account of the disaster. This darker knowledge sets adult apart from child (adults in the other groups will have picked-up more gradually the point encoded in what George ultimately discovers).
It’s a double achievement to take a horrifying death as the ultimate revelation of your Christmas show, and also to make it a positive experience, focusing on courage and helping others, developing thought and making connections through analysing evidence.
And it ends in a dance, lead by Tom Bowtell’s delighted George, Monique Duchen as his enthusiastic helper and the team who turn, in a moment, from thoughtful guides to Bacchic terpsichoreans.
George Neighbour: Tom Bowtell.
Monique: Monique Duchen.
Guides: Alexandra Donnachie, Anne Langford, Asta Parry, Conrad Murray, Daniel McGowan, David Bonnack Jr, Lamck Ogwal, Linden Walcott-Burton, Matthew Heseltine, Susan Kingman.
Directors: Sarah Golding, Russell Bender.
Associate director: Ruth Dudman.
by Kirsty Harris and Matthew Blake.
Performer: Michael Cusick.
Director: Matthew Blake.
Video: Max Davey.
by Bryony Kimmings.
Performer: Tara Boland/Nina Smith.
Director: Bryony Kimmings.
Designer/Costume: David Curtis-Ring.