Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 28 September 2013.
Mon-Sat 7pm & 8.45pm.
Runs: 1hr 35min No interval.

TICKETS: 0207 223 2223.
Review: Carole Woddis 17 September.

Compulsive lives ten minutes at a time.
Battersea Arts Centre’s urgent desire to explore the meaning of `theatre’ in today’s world has again produced a remarkable experiment. In an age of buzzing technology, social networks and digitalisation all claim to be as ways of enabling greater, closer human interaction, the reverse seems to be happening. People are even more cut off from actual human contact. We’re losing the art of socialising.

So this, an advance on BAC’s 1-on-1 festival, seeing two strangers listening to a third retelling their real-life experience, is a timely reminder about our ability to listen and to interact with others.

The 120 year old Battersea Arts Centre could hardly be a better venue with its atmospheric warren of staircases and rooms varying from large council chamber to spaces in the rafters.

Candles twinkle in the dark. An army of volunteers guide the intrepid voyager to their next venue, sometimes with scarcely a moment to pause and collect one’s thoughts about the story that’s just been told.

And some stories take some absorbing: a potential suicide being talked back from the brink, an anorexic vicar’s daughter explaining on video – because once more back in hospital – the family background that may have accounted for her condition; and a secret wedding, spurred on, through the internet, by shared grief at maternal deaths.

Often only ten minutes long, the instinct after listening to such accounts is the hand reached out in sympathy or sympathetic questioning as to further outcomes for the storyteller. But further contact is not permitted.

With six stories each tour – there are 30 in total – the exercise becomes one of sudden intimacies – sometimes unwanted intimacies – and the amazing wonder of individuals. Personally, I loved the story of the Milwall supporter enjoying a perfectly fine Man City encounter only to find it written up as `riot-infested’ by the tabloids.

Fascinatingly you realise the exercise suggests `theatre’ is not only about how a listener listens but also the atmosphere in which a story is told and yes, the way they tell ‘em.

Mancunian, Liverpuddlian, Pompey stories – stories nationwide – should surely follow?

Directors: Rosalie White, Richard Dufty.
Designer: Frances Dawes.
Lighting: Sarah O’Connor.
Volunteer coordinator: Sam Brzsly.

London Stories, A 1-on-1-on-1 Festival opened at Battersea Arts Centre, London on 16 September 2013.

2013-09-24 10:44:10

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