A Small Town Anywhere

This event has now finished. Until Nov 7 2009

© Briony Campbell

Time Out says  

Posted: Wed Oct 28 2009

Two years in the devising, Coney's 'A Small Town Anywhere' is the understatedly audacious centrepiece of BAC's 'Not for Me, Not for You, but for Us', a festival of new work rooted in that most dreaded of phenomena, audience participation. Billed as a play without actors, each member of the audience is assigned a role (Police Chief, Priest, Minstrel etc) and political party (rightwing Wrens or left-leaning Larks), then left to go about their daily business within the interactive set. In this we are aided by Henri Georges, the Town Historian, who provides context and back-story in a pre-play briefing (and can be engaged with online beforehand - strongly advisable) and also the ethereal tones of performer Melanie Wilson, who exerts a shaping hand on the action as an unseen, omnipotent narrator.

Though initially defined by rural whimsy and the odd skeleton in the closet, 'A Small Town…' ultimately serves as an interrogation of ideology and its poisonous effect on community. External events turn the town's political divide increasingly toxic, until both Wrens and Larks are threatened with destruction. Historical parallels (particularly with Europe's tumultuous twentieth century) are easy to infer; the drama lies not in behind-closed-doors clichés but in confronting us with the gristliness of realpolitik.

There are moments of confusion and frustration - it's certainly not for wallflowers - and arguably our lack of genuine ideological investment robs it of some edge. Nonetheless, the fraught final stages feel as complex and electrifying as any actor-based drama. The moral decisions we are asked to take might seem simplistic to a fly on the wall, but the luxury of such detachment is long gone.

BAC details

BAC, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN

BAC

The forward-thinking Battersea Arts Centre, which inhabits the old Battersea Town Hall, has become synonymous with experimental theatre. It's...

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