“We seek out revolution wherever we can find it”
The Royal Court’s The Big Idea strand of work commissions a range of responses to the plays running there and with Hangmen going great guns in the main house before heading over the Wyndham’s for a well-deserved West End transfer, I headed over this Saturday afternoon for It’s Like the 60s Never Happened. Four short plays, each “imagining a world where one of the major 1960s social political or technological innovations never happened”, performed in unexpected locations on the Royal Court site.
I’ve been on a couple of similar theatrical trips here before and there’s something irresistible about getting to see the backstage nooks and crannies which are so inventively used. This time, we got to visit a rehearsal room, a little terraced garden, a stairwell and the office that sits behind those iconic red letters out front and though they may not sound the most inspirational of places, the way in which each of the directors used them really did cultivate the sense of something special.
My favourite of the quartet was Amber Hsu’s A Corrosion Named Desire, Episode 1: The Hero Inside Me directed by Jude Christian. Here, it was exploration into space that took a different path to leave surreal conclusions about the shape of the Earth but also all-too-convincing chilling observations about challenging orthodoxy. Sargon Yelda and Joan Iyiola dealt extremely well with the swift scenes and sharp theatricality, Hsu and Christian showing masterfully what can be achieved even in 10 short minutes.
Perched on a staircase, Nathaniel Martello-White’s Bob trod an equally absurdist path, giving us a Bob Marley who had faked his death and was now working on a Lidl checkout. Rania Jumaily kept the interactions between Seun Shote’s expansive Bob and Joseph Kloska’s starstruck customer neatly balanced and highly amusing, especially its in anti-corporate moments. Anders Lustgarten’s Marauding and In Smoke: a play without Kevlar by A Zell Williams completed the set, making for an intriguing curio.