Fringe Online 2021
Between the Cracks
Jermyn Street Theatre in Association with Creative Associates
Creative Associates returns for another showcase at JST’s Footprints Festival. Between the Cracks features work by Creative Associates Hana Pascal Keegan, Chirag Benedict Lobo, Darren Sinnott, Camila Robinson-Rodriguez and Khadifa Wong. They’re joined by guests including actor/writer Daniel Adeosun, director Sarah Stacey, actor Whitney Kehinde and actor/writers Jack Condon and Theo Ancient.
Lighting by Johanna Town’s straightforward. Camera work from several angles (Director Mark Swadel, Operator Balazs Weidner), including seventy-five degrees overhead, are deftly sequenced. One show only June 16th, but recorded for future use.
Creative Associates are back at JST’s Footprints Festival with another triple-bill of short plays. This suite’s entitled Between the Cracks, billed as ‘a showcase about the people who don’t fit – and the ways they get lost and found.’ It’s not the obvious places either. Displacement, whether left-behind, deracinated, racially marginalised, all these plays show people who’ve vanished between cracks; and though it’s not touched on, exactly four years after Grenfell, we know where this leads.
Between the Cracks features work by Creative Associates Hana Pascal Keegan, Chirag Benedict Lobo, Darren Sinnott, Camila Robinson-Rodriguez and Khadifa Wong. They’re joined by guests including actor/writer Daniel Adeosun, director Sarah Stacey, actor Whitney Kehinde and actor/writers Jack Condon and Theo Ancient.
Jack Condon and Theo Ancient If Destroyed Still True (I.D.S.T.)
If Destroyed Still True (I.D.S.T.) by actor/writers Jack Condon and Theo Ancient. is about life in one of the UK’s many forgotten seaside towns. We’re in summer 2013. Two white teenage male wananbe post-A-level students and one young black woman Charlotte (Whitney Kehinde). already reading English and Philosophy. The boys (Condon, Ancient) have known each other some years. Things should be easy. One, James is trying to break the mould and new girlfriend Charlotte encourages him. His friend John seems irredeemable
This explores regionally-left-behind-town racism circling around Charlotte which she won’t let fall between cracks. Though she’s equable and politely parrying crass tales of a black cat, thieving from Morrison’s, and all kinds of assumptions. And really bad white rap. Or sexual assumptions when ‘shag marry kill’ ‘kill Himmler marry Pixie Lott shag David (Brent)’ produces assumption about women and sex. There’s an explosion, a gear-change of loyalties, and we’re in thew winter of 2018 for Act Two.
James and John are in different places. James living in Seven Sisters is a teacher and getting married after five years in a relationship with Charlotte. John’s losing everything in a slow spin of disability. John’s capable of ‘Get her fish and chips, show her English.’ ‘She is English… She’s vegan.’ ‘Get her an ice cream then.’
John sees more clearly than James that the boys causing him grief are him a few years ago, and now John’s in very bad shape indeed. Is it this town? James is trying one last time to rescue John, to see if someone of his promise can be saved. John’s destructive pattern is gradually exposed as James relates what he’s learned.
A third act in 2021 has James and Charlotte in even more elegiac mode. Charlotte has a story, because James is in trouble too: guilt and the past. This act has the most powerful writing of all, though quoting it will reveal too many plot-points.
This is a snappy fast-paced newly-created drama of real scope, vigour and increasing emotional depth. At an hour’s length it fizzes with intersectional ferocity and in the second act, a sad elegy for the parting of ways and a tender reaching-out. The third’s at an exceptional level.
To see this fully-staged would be great, but this rehearsed-reading production gets to its essence and leaves no nuance out. Directed by Sarah Stacey the actors – though the only ones tonight using scripts, because of length – reacted as if off the page: exemplary, exhilarating, quietly heartrending by the end.
Daniel Adeosun The Butterflies of Life
The Butterflies of Life is a 12-minute two-hander set in one of those elite colleges where two people find themselves the odd ones out. Chirag Benedict Lobo, Darren Sinnott echo their sense of exclusion as they try to barter their way back into the white exclusivity they clearly experience. They’ve got butterflies.
Every objection Lobo and Sinnot bounce back at each other, you feel they’re in a room where they’ll only be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to whatever tragic ego stalks its future outside.
At one point ‘as long as the Mahabharata’ gets referenced by Sinnott as the number of pitfalls Lobo’s character might encounter. The what? The play seems written in the knowledge JST would have just featured it. The solutions the pair come up with though are never easy, but can at least lend relief.
Camila Robinson-Rodriguez La Gringa
Directed by Khadifa Wong La Gringa brings a Colombian ex-pat mother and her British-raised daughter now living near the Elephant and Castle, wrestling with how both their identities have shifted. The actors (it was difficult catching their names, tbc) mark a generational divide as a late teen is made to feel both deracinated and told not to look back.
The mother wants to connect and relax amongst visiting family and other Colombians. Yet she didn’t want to attend her father’s funeral and wouldn’t let her daughter go. There’s history and damage. Meanwhile her daughter feels she must champion and write protest poems against the closure of markets (not Colombian ones, so what does it matter, mother asks?) and even coffee shops, because though she never went to university in Colombia, she claims she’s on a gap year. ‘There are no gaps in life’ her mother ripostes.
But the gap they’re living in has widened all the time, and perhaps between them. Cousins are coming to stay; identity rubs both ways, and both ways raw. One wants to go forward but to pay homage to the past. One feels only connected when some of that past embraces her, but the other is why she left; and there seems no settling, no welcome, a bleak future.
Fully costumed. – and there’s even a large Colombian flag – this was beautifully set out too: table, full of preparations, chairs and in its 18 minutes seems set to be a play going much further with an arc just waiting to move up to a full drama.
Tonight’s Creative Associates trio were a sort of fit, with an hour, 12 and 18 minutes respectively; The Butterflies of Life proved a stimulating entr’acte well worth developing too. It proves another mode of exclusion. I’d have loved to have seen La Gringa expanded though, and ideally a two-play format deliver depth to the last two. If pushed, I.D.S.T has its separate life already and the second half might find strength in growing to at least 30 minutes or possibly 45. Certainly with La Gringa there’s real scope for development. Another hugely stimulating triple-hit from Creative Associates.