by Luisa De la Concha Montes
Homelessness won’t seem to be a stage-friendly matter. With the announcement of recent legal guidelines that may additional criminalise tough sleeping, it may appear dangerous to discover such a posh matter on stage. Nevertheless, The Streets of London, produced and carried out by Amy Wakeman, completely balances humour, statistics and verbatim theatre to open the viewers’s thoughts to a subject that’s too simply ignored.
The play combines totally different mediums, akin to video, pre-recorded audio and animation, to inform us about Julie, a lady that ended up on the streets after being let down by the care system as a baby. The play begins with Julie writing a letter to Rishi Sunak, inviting him to spend an evening in her tent to essentially perceive what it’s prefer to be homeless. She is addressing Sunak, however she can also be subtly addressing the viewers. This offers us perception into a life-style that almost all viewers members are probably unfamiliar with.
Sourced from Wakeman’s work with homeless folks over ten years, it’s clear that this play is written by somebody that isn’t trying from the skin in, however that’s truly emotionally concerned with the neighborhood it portrays. It doesn’t shrink back from confrontation, because it overtly forces us to recollect our physique language round homeless folks, and the way in which iwe uncomfortably stroll round them or keep away from making eye contact. Bluntly put, the feelings it triggers are usually not simple to navigate, however in a rustic just like the UK the place homelessness is normalised, that is extraordinarily wanted.
Amy Wakeman’s efficiency is gripping; from the cockney accent to the styling of the character, the whole lot about her personification is totally plausible. Julie’s vitality is contagious. She shortly steals our hearts with jokes, tender tales about her mum, and quirky interactions with the viewers, akin to drawing a stick man on a balloon after which gifting it to an viewers member while telling him it’s a portray of him.
In a single scene, she recollects her love story with a fellow homeless man. Emotions of smugness transpire, making us root for them. Nevertheless, she quickly expresses how her habit, and her lack of self-control when ingesting alcohol, made their one-night romance fall via the cracks. By mixing humorous storytelling with the sobering actuality of her situation, Julie’s narrative permits us to see past the assumptions we’ve about homeless folks, humanising her situation. On the finish of the present we’re instructed that Julie’s character is impressed on an actual individual that Amy met outdoors Vauxhall station, bringing the story full circle with a poignant finish.
Within the context of the cost-of-living disaster, The Streets of London is a must-see. It urges us to see the issue past statistics and perceive that this can be a systemic concern needing pressing focus. By forcing us to take heed to Julie’s story, it bursts our bubble of privilege, making us conscious that the rationale why we really feel discomfort concerning the matter is as a result of it’s nearer than we prefer to assume, because it impacts 1 in 280 folks in England. Or, in Julie’s phrases: “Let me offer you some ideas, in case you find yourself homeless like me, you by no means know.” Merely put, it’s a harsh play, however it wouldn’t work in any other case, as harshness is required to highlight a difficulty that we’re all responsible of comfortably strolling previous.
The Streets of London runs via 28 Could.
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