Pros: With its incredible energy and exciting concept, this is a passionate testament to all London has to offer.
Cons: The script is a bit rough around the edges.
Generation Arts is truly one of London’s most special organisations –offering high-quality acting training to aspiring actors who would otherwise be unable to afford preparation for a career in the theatre. The company provides powerful talents with the resources they need to pursue education in their field, and the recent production of Dirty Special Thing proves what can be accomplished with a little bit of faith and investment.
The organisation’s year long training program has culminated in the Future Stage Company’s performance of Dirty Special Thing at the Platform Theatre – a striking, modern venue if there ever was one. If you follow Google Maps to the theatre, like I did, you’ll be treated to a detoured view of the theatre’s rear; a stunning, floor to ceiling glass wall gives a spectacular view into the backstage workings, including the set and prop shops. You might realise once you’ve walked the length of this backstage look in that you’ll need to double back to turn another corner to the entrance, but trust me, it’s a worthy wander. The Platform is equipped with a lovely, open bar and the theatre itself is spacious and well-equipped.
Dirty Special Thing is a love song to the people of London, a snapshot of different kinds of lives and struggles converging at odd and unexpected angles, in the same way the way that Joseph the taxi driver in training (portrayed by Helder Fernandes) observes that the streets of the city do. Among the cast of characters are students, educators, bankers, nurses, postmen, politicians, landlords, telemarketers, street sweepers, prostitutes and homeless people, each fighting their own battle for survival and happiness in the city.
The 15 members of the Future Stage Company who make up the cast are an impressive lot, and it was beyond enthralling to watch their enthusiasm, hard work and true talent brought to the fore through this incredible theatre-making opportunity. Each character is lovingly handled and a given delightfully multifaceted performance by the cast, who managed to tug at the heartstrings and make the audience double up with laughter. The production utilises interesting movement work, music and a low maintenance, easily transformable set to accomplish a smooth and modern style.
The production was devised in five weeks by the company and the final product is a fun and moving production, though the script can not take much responsibility for the production’s ability to inspire. Choppy and abrupt, the storyline has its moments, but didn’t do the cast much service. I personally would have preferred a longer production with an interval to the 75 minute romp through various London characters, if only for the opportunity to see the actors slow their pace and have individual moments to shine. Since everything happens so quickly and there are few one-on-one scenes, nuances of character and raw emotion, while clearly there, don’t have the time to land. I was sorry not to see more chances to develop the emotional landscape of the piece. The quick pace also keeps the dramatic ending from making a real impact.
Tight script or no, Generation Arts is doing amazing things and deserves an audience’s attention. Supporting the growth of art outside of privileged communities only leads to better and more diverse work, creates more space for anyone and everyone to take to the stage. It generates more stories to tell and to hear and revives our traditional theatrical canon. Don’t miss Generation Arts’ next show, because you might be missing the next great talent, and you’d definitely be missing the opportunity to help foster new and exciting voices in London’s theatre community.
Devised by: Future Stage Company
Director: Ali Godfrey
Producer: Generation Arts
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.