The Building - Review

What do you get if you cross an Edward Hopper painting with WH Davis, Shakespeare, a theatrical company and a block of flats? You get The Building, a piece of promenade theatre devised by Sarah Davies.

Purposeful tour guides – an investment agent, council operative and historian – direct the audience through the backstage maze of the New Venture Theatre, sorry, a derelict clutch of ramshackle flats, briefly interacting with the variously dysfunctional residents: a tipsy trustafarian (with a, like, permanent rising inflection), a camp transvestite, mad writer, autistic boy, thieving Irish knave, lonely widow and cross young mother.

Stereotypes, perhaps, but glimpsed with such liveliness and humour as to be totally engaging.

The audience, arrayed around the rooms, occasionally improvise dialogue. Would the heat wave back? Were we interrupting tea? This way, ladies and gentlemen, that wall is coming down, we’re keeping the oak beams, mind the stairs. The curtain never comes down.

This is brilliant, creative and unusual theatre from a wonderful cast and production team who beautifully blur the boundaries between the real and the imaginary.

A final chorus parodies “all the world’s a stage” but perhaps The Building is a stage for all the world.

Argus Review - by Louise Schweitzer (The Argus - Monday 22 July)