Look Left Look Right
Venue: Latitude Theatre Tent
Severe flooding in the summer of 2007 across the UK brought misery to hundreds of thousands of people, destroying homes, livelihoods, cutting off access to drinking water, and causing major disruption to travel routes. As a result of the ensuing chaos, over 2000 households were still living in caravans a year later. The company’s intense and at times humorous half hour piece puts both performers and audience in a 20-foot caravan and gives an insight into how people cope in a crisis.
A year on from its debut in Edinburgh, The Caravan has done 375 performances and shows no sign of slowing down. A season at the Roundhouse is approaching and further dates in the south are planned.
A piece of verbatim theatre, the show was written in response to the severe flooding experienced by many parts of the UK in 2007. The company producing The Caravan – Look Left, Look Right – onducted several hours of interviews with the floodvictims, then focussed on the stories of around ten individuals. The show, which uses only the words of the interview subjects, is conducted in a real caravan, and the eight audience members, crammed together on a velveteen seat, get a sense of how cramped and claustrophobic the lives of those who lost their homes became in the months following the floods.
An incredibly fine cast of four take on the many roles in the piece, and play them with humour, honesty and integrity. An easy trap to fall into with this type of theatre would be to turn these people into caricatures, however, Look Left, Look Right draw their characters perfectly and they really bring out the sorrow, desperation and frustration caused by the floods – something so easily brushed over by the news and media coverage.
The piece also encourages the audience to remember that long after the waters receded and the media coverage waned, there were still thousands of families struggling to put their lives back together, not to mention the travesty which is the council building program – still erecting new homes on flood plains, despite warnings from the Environment Agency.
The Caravan is a marvelous and moving piece of theatre – deserving of its success, and I look forward to seeing the company’s next offering.