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A Call to Arms: Kandinsky’s Trap Street at New Diorama

Leave it to Kandinsky Theatre Company and New Diorama to create a piece that is achingly relevant to the present housing crisis – and SEEN does not use those words lightly.

Trap Street (itself a cartographic term for non-existent roads) depicts a council estate erected in the sixties only to find itself outdated and about to be demolished in 2017 as council boroughs with their eyes on overseas buyers design an estate that can only be viewed via Virtual Reality goggles.

The small and versatile cast embody various archetypes: a single mother, Valerie (Amelda Brown), intent on raising two children and genuinely interested in a cohesive community; the children themselves, Andrea (Danusia Samal) and Graham (Hamish MacDougall) raised in near-poverty yet able to access a university education; their neighbours, at first interested in the community themselves but later withdrawn and suspicious, increasingly anti-social as the estate becomes a sink for problem families; and – to hilarious effect – modern marketeers of a new estate that can only be viewed through Virtual Reality Goggles.

The performance moves along at a cracking pace with the cast using an array of simple props (a broom, strewn rubbish) to great effect, evoking a community under strain and the indomitability of the human spirit. Also, disturbingly, how easily the concerns of the ‘little people’ can be swept aside in favour of rampant commercialism. The accompanying music and sound effects by Zac Gvirtzman and visuals (via a TV set) made this a multi-media tour de force.

The play was devised by the cast on the basis of original work by Director James Yeatman and producer Lauren Mooney. I thought this really showed in their committed acting style. It’s not often that you see actors so embedded in their roles,

As much a critique of successive government policies on housing as it is a wry observation of over-priced London and undervalued citizens, Kandinsky have created a play that entertains and informs without ever preaching to its audience. The human element, the price that the poorest have to pay while big bucks are made elsewhere and promises broken, is not forgotten. It feels like the audience was handed a challenge – exactly what are we going to do about the housing crisis?

Trap Street is on until 31st March.

15 – 16 Triton Street
Regent’s Place