by Bola Agbaje & Rachel De-lahay, with Alice Birch, Brad Birch, Adam Brace, Robin French, Lucy Kirkwood, Chloe Moss, David Watson & Roy Williams.

Royal Court Theatre (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 14 September 2013.
Mon-Sat 7pm no performance 11 September Mat 7 Sept 3pm & 14 Sept 5pm.
Captioned 13 Sept.
Runs: 1hr 20min No interval.

TICKETS 020 7565 -5000.
Review: Carole Woddis 3 September.

Taking the rough into the smooth.
Peckham to Sloane Square; it’s a long way culturally from one to the other. People are known to make fun of Peckham. And nothing emphasises the contrast more, ironically, than this `experiment’ of bringing Peckham: The Soap Opera, devised by Royal Court writers Bola Agbaje and Rachel De-lahay along with other Royal Court regulars to SW1.

Originally part of Vicky Featherstone’s inaugural six-week writer-led Open Court festival, it comes from the Royal Court `Local’ in Peckham, based at the Bussey Building in Rye Lane, which has been a terrific success. In what is still an economically deprived if culturally vibrant part of south east London, the theatre has proved an inspiration to local artists and residents alike.

Peckham: The Soap Opera started out as five-minute episodes, `streamed’ online, culminating in an omnibus edition played to a live audience in Peckham, performed by actors drawn from the local community.

The frisson of locals’ own stories performed by themselves and other local people must have been something. The effect in Sloane Square, where the Theatre Upstairs has been transformed into a stage area with alcoves of sofas and personal memorabilia, is a slightly bemusing one – warm like being invited into someone’s home but sitting a little uneasily, nonetheless, within this cultural icon.

For this viewer, it was the more personal for recognising a sometime occasional cleaner immortalised as a staunch defender of her community and a deep lover of cats (very true to her real self) in a storyline that also covers youth unemployment, hairdressing (high on the agenda in this part of London), social services cuts and a subject close to any Londoner’s heart: re- development and loss of community identity.

Soaps are often a crude form of dramatisation and Peckham: The Soap Opera is no exception. But bringing Peckham into the Royal Court `sitting room’ via back-projections and with director Ola Animashawun’s local performers, 0works as a reminder of what lies beyond the shores of SW1. It is all the more revealing for its amateurism and roughness. Who’s next in line for a `local’ representation in Sloane Square, I wonder?

Amir: Christopher Glover.
Chi-Chi: Kemi Lofinmakin.
Ed: Stuart Laing.
Elaine: Lisa Sheerin.
Fenella: Naomi Waring.
Glenda: Eva Edo.
James: Simon Balcon.
Joey: Kola Bokinni.
Lashanna: Alice Fofana.
Linda: Wendy McNeilly.
Lucy: Phoebe Éclair-Powell.
Monica: Marie Koroma.
Mick: Guy Atkins.
Ravi: Kevin Sevilla.
The Runner: Toyin Alase.
Winnie: Nellie Andoh.

Director: Ola Animashawun.
Originally directed by: Ola Animashawun & Debbie Hannan.
Designer: Zoe Hurwitz.
Lighting: Jack Williams.
Sound: David Gregory.
Dramaturgs: Carissa Hope Lynch, Emily McLaughlin & Louise Stephens Alexander
Assistant director: Mez Ndukwe.
Associate designer: Gina Rose Lee.

Peckham: The Soap Opera is supported by Bloomberg.

2013-09-05 00:39:21

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