‘Trap Street’ review

Theatre, Drama
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Trap Street, Kandinsky

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

An inventive, angering looking at Britain‘s house crisis from the reliably excellent Kandinsky

So, the housing crisis. For half a century, right across the political spectrum, from Bevan to Thatcher, politicians have tried to realise their ideals about how other, usually poorer people should live. And look at where we are now. 

You might think a piece of theatre about how shit it all is would be pretty unappealing fare, but not when it’s done like this. The consistently impressive Kandinsky unpicks the short-sightedness of those urban ideals with an 80-minute show that melds an astonishing complexity of themes, a mastery of form and a deep, deep humanity.

Essentially it’s about a woman and a council flat from 1961 to the present day, with the show twitching back and forth in time, allowing us to piece together the story of both. There’s a blank white wall, a TV screen to tell us what year it is, and a live score played by Zac Gvirtzman. We watch this woman as a girl when her mum first moves into the flat, and see its final days before it’s demolished and turned into – what else? – luxury flats, complete with eco zone and technology-free yurt.

Stealthily it becomes clear that this is a story about the housing crisis. But it’s so intricate and subtle, not to mention enjoyable, that it takes a while before you realise your blood pressure has been rising because the housing system is so utterly fucked. We’re not hammered over the head with that fact, just presented with this woman’s story, in fragments, and left to piece together the whole. The huge amount of research that has clearly gone into the show is made human, as it looks at the (im)possibility of sustaining a sense of community in close-quarters living.

Even though the scenes where we see the mother and daughter’s relationship are intermittent and fragmentary, we see enough to get a sense of the complexity of it, and how the building they live in has shaped it. The show makes it obvious that buildings are always about human relationships, money and class. 

It’s helped, too, by an extraordinary performance from Amelda Brown, who plays both mother and daughter across the course of half a century. There’s a combination of fierceness and desperation in her performance as a domineering mother trying hard to make a home for herself. 

‘Trap Street’ is another triumph for Kandinsky. It’s theatrically taut and deeply layered. Most of all, however, it’s one of those shows that’ll have you chatting, thinking, tweeting, texting about what it lays bare for days afterwards.

By: Tim Bano

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