Online Zoom show, booking until 8 August
With The House that Slipped Teatro Vivo has inventively used the Zoom platform to devise a wonderful theatrical experience. “We’re rather in a predicament,” the cast tell us. Having gone into lockdown in April 2020 during the pandemic, 12 Laburnum Drive, Brockley has bizarrely time-slipped to 2070. Sandra and Kevin Baxter, Sandra’s sister Julia and their upstairs neighbour Yasmina open their front door one day and, instead of seeing the street and neighbouring houses, are confronted with a vertical farm – a veritable jungle.
As the play begins, the screen is filled with a single character; the long-haired, rather handsome and intriguing lion face of Nigel, the house-bot (house robot). He then passes the screen to Soleen, our 2070 guide and a cyborg, who is delightful, warm, welcoming and very funny. She explains how people in 2070 say hello: it’s done with the right hand, thumb on the third eye, palm open, coupled with a wee bow. Be wary of using the left hand, as that means you want a fight.
But after these two introductions, the household of 12 Laburnum Drive greets us in their lounge, all terribly excited to have us there, and entreating our help. It appears that the only way to leave 2070 is to make connection with people from 2020, and this is where the audience steps in. Over the course of the play the onlookers are split into Zoom breakout rooms where we engage with one of the characters and hear about their individual trials, tribulations and delights. 2070 turns out to be not all bad.
Indeed, by the close of the play Sandra finds that actually she doesn’t want to go back to 2020. “There’s no losers here” she tells us. Everything is based on need and not wealth or what you’ve got. She’s a librarian by profession and something of a celebrity in 2070, or as close as one can be to it. “Imagine” she tells us, “a librarian who’s a celebrity!?”.
Within the confines of the breakout rooms, our characters implore us for information about 2020; how long the pandemic will last; how we lead our lives; what we enjoy; what our ambitions are, and suchlike.
Intermittently, the ever amusing Soleen takes over the screen to give us glimpses into 2070. At one stage she’s munching on a head of iceberg lettuce, which now tastes of raspberry cheesecake. We learn that during ‘The Great Turning’ experienced between 2021-25 there was (bearing in mind we receive this info from 2070) an electronic storm of such proportions that huge amounts of data were lost, including books. Elders filled in the gaps with facts pieced together with fiction, informing the people of 2070 that Covid-19 began in 1346 and was started by Heston Blumenthal when he took four and twenty blackbirds and baked them in a pie. The audience is asked if there’s any truth to this, and was Blumenthal responsible for the pandemic? Soleen also tells us that there are now no governments, only assemblies which mostly gather to take psychotropic drugs and have a laugh. After the audience tell her we have parliaments, she suggests perhaps our parliament could take psychotropic drugs.
The play concludes with us making praying gestures and arm movements, like physical worshippers-cum-time travel mechanics, to bring 12 Laburnum Drive back to 2020. We won’t know how successful this has been until the event held on 8 August, for which booking details are below.
This is an entertaining and inventive production, and Teatro Vivo has successfully executed a truly delightful experience within our 2020 pandemic lockdown.
Devised by: Teatro Vivo
Directed by: Mark Stevenson
Produced by: Teatro Vivo