Saw a show in a squat. But not just any old squat - St.George's Theatre in Tufnell Park. A former church, it's been bought by a religious group, but the counter-cultural community arts centre thriving there will not go without a (non-violent) fight. (If anyone has any news they can share about this, please mail me.)
The show reflected their spirit and warmth - Cardboard Citizens mounting a scratch performance of scenes from John Berger's novel of homelessness and hopefulness, King. JB was there the night I went. Sixteen in the cast, an onstage band, and rough theatricals that kept the story sweeping along - though the play was presented in 'fragments' (the director Adrian Jackson's word) it bound the audience, drew us in with its playful artlessness. The piece is wry, rude and raucous, as well as big-hearted and touching.
The sixteen untrained actors were of all different shapes, races, ages. They swapped lines, came together as chorus, soliloquised - they were wonderful. They'd barely rehearsed this intricate, delicate piece for a week, and the prompter was called on only once.
Congratulated the writer after, Penny Cliff. I'd met her at the other John Berger show, Vanishing Points. What CardboardCitz lacked in sophistication, they more than made up for in humour and humanity, qualities obscured in the Complicite show by, for want of a smarter term, over-artfulness.
Mind you, the funniest moment of the evening was non-human - when the chorus barked and yapped canine-style, a worried dog in the audience heckled, more than once. It turned out he was the doggy auteur of the film we'd seen projected - a stray's eye view of the mean streets a mutt must walk - he only took a bow at the end, didn't he. So it seems he wasn't heckling, but giving notes.