THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR, 2013
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.
A very good show and a fine alternative to tinsel.
Here’s the opposite of a pantomime. Instead of pre-contrived audience responses, there are original ideas genuinely sought. In place of one colourful story, separate scenes in dark and dingy apartments – using the Victorian Town Hall building BAC used to be, when huge staffs and equipment meant a complex world of nooks and crannies.
And in place of an interval a mid-point session where the audience, especially keen young members, can chalk on a huge floor-map of the building the discoveries made while exploring, in ten separate groups, the environments created for the show.
They have been searching for clues to the life of George Neighbour, who recollects only scattered facts about his fears, and memories stretching back to Queen Victoria.
When you’ve done your circuit you still haven’t seen the whole thing (which is also very different from last year’s Good Neighbour). No group goes everywhere. But you’ll have found people who give treasure-hunt like directions to yet another door, inside which is another event.
Strangely, there’s little said about George, but a lot about courage. Bryony Kimmings’ Victorian creation Babs showed it and was exploded against a wall for her trouble. It’s up to the visitors to act her free.
Kirsty Harris and Matthew Blake have installed The Momentorium, whose keeper collects moments from people’s lives when they drop as water into shining glass jars, emerging as moving screen images. Filling your life with memorable moments is a sign of fulfilment.
Elsewhere, it’s the activity more than the script that counts – recording lost property (in the old Town Hall’s lost Property office), or creating new lights from batteries and a filament amidst a variety of talking bulbs. There’s a tale of a brave bee told in a tiny beehive-shaped chamber.
When the audience finally reassemble they spur the diffident George to face his fears. As for explanations of his past, young people provide these with ingenuity; if only the company found a way to prevent adults in the crowds laughing at them.
For, that apart, The Good Neighbour takes its young audiences seriously, is investigative, imaginative and splendidly innovative.
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.