One Mile Away | Theatre Review

One Mile Away

I just returned from a performance of ‘One Mile Away’ – a play with an ambulant format, something that has become a popular feature of London plays of late. It takes the notion that the audience are part of the art form one step further. The world literally becomes a stage as actors move around key locations in the great outdoors drifting amongst the audience who follow the whole thing on foot. Bad weather notwithstanding it was a great new theatrical experience for me.

‘One Mile Away’ takes place in the Elephant & Castle area. It explores the social and political history of the area throughout the 20th and 21st Century so far, using the stories of local people to link it all together.

The play was written by Kat Joyce with whom I had a very interesting conversation after the show (when she was finished posing as a member of the audience). She explained the inspiration behind the stories in the play and how they were all based on people she had met as well as contributions from locals who took part in one of the ‘Spread The Word’ creative writing initiatives. The impressive cast had only a mere two weeks to rehearse for the play. Their hard work pulled off and they gave strong, convincing performances. Stand outs include Maynard Eziashi’s role as a homeless man suffering from psychotic episodes, Simon Harrison’s portrayal of a revolutionary father and son and the charismatic Taio Renée-Lawson as a young teenager rooted to Lambeth life; his parochial outlook preventing him from showing interest in his Nigerian heritage.

I couldn’t begrudge the strong anti-capitalist message in ‘One Mile Away’ either as it chronicled the misery of the Thatcher years, the anger of the Brixton and Poll Tax riots and the optimism of New Labour’s 1997 election victory. Then there’s the disillusionment of residents of estates soon to be demolished, as they are relocated and forgotten about to make way for expensive flats intended for well-to-do young professionals.

There is talk of Ms Joyce creating similar theatrical pieces to reflect the history of various parts of London. If you get an opportunity to attend one of these plays you will find they really are an informative and refreshing slice of theatre.

Review by Tola.